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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Finding Nonoverlapping Dense Blocks of a Sparse Matrix

  • Author(s): Vassilevska, Virginia
  • Pinar, Ali
  • et al.

Many applications of scientific computing rely on computations on sparse matrices. The design of efficient implementations of sparse matrix kernels is crucial for the overall efficiency of these applications. Due to the high compute-to-memory ratio and irregular memory access patterns, the performance of sparse matrix kernels is often far away from the peak performance on a modern processor. Alternative data structures have been proposed, which split the original matrix A into A_d and A_s, so that A_d contains all dense blocks of a specified size in the matrix, and A_s contains the remaining entries. This enables the use of dense matrix kernels on the entries of A_d producing better memory performance. In this work, we study the problem offinding a maximum number of nonoverlapping dense blocks in a sparse matrix, which is previously not studied in the sparse matrix community. We show that the maximum nonoverlapping dense blocks problem is NP-complete by using a reduction from the maximum independent set problem on cubic planar graphs. We also propose a 2/3-approximation algorithm that runs in linear time in the number of nonzeros in the matrix. This extended abstract focuses on our results for 2x2 dense blocks. However we show that our results can be generalized to arbitrary sized dense blocks, and many other oriented substructures, which can be exploited to improve the memory performance of sparse matrix operations.

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