Sparse array representations and some selected array operations on GPUs

Hairong Wang
School of Computer Science, University of the Witwatersrand
University of the Witwatersrand, 2014


   title={Sparse array representations and some selected array operations on GPUs},

   author={Wang, Hairong},


   school={School of Computer Science University of the Witwatersrand A dissertation submitted to the Faculty of Science, University of the Witwatersrand}


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A multi-dimensional data model provides a good conceptual view of the data in data warehousing and On-Line Analytical Processing (OLAP). A typical representation of such a data model is as a multi-dimensional array which is well suited when the array is dense. If the array is sparse, i.e., has a few number of non-zero elements relative to the product of the cardinalities of the dimensions, using a multi-dimensional array to represent the data set requires extremely large memory space while the actual data elements occupy a relatively small fraction of the space. Existing storage schemes for Multi-Dimensional Sparse Arrays (MDSAs) of higher dimensions k (k > 2), focus on optimizing the storage utilization, and offer little flexibility in data access efficiency. Most efficient storage schemes for sparse arrays are limited to matrices that are arrays in 2 dimensions. In this dissertation, we introduce four storage schemes for MDSAs that handle the sparsity of the array with two primary goals; reducing the storage overhead and maintaining efficient data element access. These schemes, including a well known method referred to as the Bit Encoded Sparse Storage (BESS), were evaluated and compared on four basic array operations, namely construction of a scheme, large scale random element access, sub-array retrieval and multi-dimensional aggregation. The four storage schemes being proposed, together with the evaluation results are: i.) The extended compressed row storage (xCRS) which extends CRS method for sparse matrix storage to sparse arrays of higher dimensions and achieves the best data element access efficiency among the methods compared; ii.) The bit encoded xCRS (BxCRS) which optimizes the storage utilization of xCRS by applying data compression methods with run length encoding, while maintaining its data access efficiency; iii.) A hybrid approach (Hybrid) that provides the best control of the balance between the storage utilization and data manipulation efficiency by combining xCRS and BESS. iv.) The PATRICIA trie compressed storage (PTCS) which uses PATRICIA trie to store the valid non-zero array elements. PTCS supports efficient data access, and has a unique property of supporting update operations conveniently. v.) BESS performs the best for the multi-dimensional aggregation, closely followed by the other schemes. We also addressed the problem of accelerating some selected array operations using General Purpose Computing on Graphics Processing Unit (GPGPU). The experimental results showed different levels of speed up, ranging from 2 to over 20 times, on large scale random element access and sub-array retrieval. In particular, we utilized GPUs on the computation of the cube operator, a special case of multi-dimensional aggregation, using BESS. This resulted in a 5 to 8 times of speed up compared with our CPU only implementation. The main contributions of this dissertation include the developments, implementations and evaluations of four efficient schemes to store multi-dimensional sparse arrays, as well as utilizing massive parallelism of GPUs for some data warehousing operations.
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