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Software developers often speak of "emberassingly parallel" tasks. Why is this adjective used in this phrase? What makes parallel tasks emberassing?

closed as off-topic by lbf, marcellothearcane, Bread, Laurel, Mitch Jun 2 '18 at 22:06

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  • This is less about the usage of the English language or the adjective, but rather an opinion of something from a subject-specific field. To answer such a question one would have to know what parallel tasks are. – aesking Jun 2 '18 at 20:31
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    Possible duplicate of: english.stackexchange.com/questions/83677/…. Also some kind of research, such as why are "embarrassingly parallel tasks" embarrassing, could of led you to that answer. – aesking Jun 2 '18 at 20:40
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    This question better asked on one of the #Computer SE sites. – lbf Jun 2 '18 at 20:53
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    Possible duplicate of What is "embarrassing" about an embarrassingly parallel problem? – Laurel Jun 2 '18 at 21:11
  • Yes, this is a dupe and can be closed! – duhaime Jun 2 '18 at 22:28
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if something is embarrassingly easy, it is ridiculously easy, so much so that when you do it it feels like you are showing off.

In parallel computing, an embarrassingly parallel workload or problem (also called perfectly parallel or pleasingly parallel) is one where little or no effort is needed to separate the problem into a number of parallel tasks.

"Embarrassingly" is used here in the same sense as in the phrase "an embarrassment of riches", meaning an overabundance—here referring to parallelization problems which are "embarrassingly easy"

An alternative term, pleasingly parallel, has gained some use, perhaps to avoid the negative connotations of embarrassment in favor of a positive reflection on the parallelizability of the problems: "Of course, there is nothing embarrassing about these programs at all.

Embarrassingly parallel


an embarrassment of riches formal ​ so many good things or people that it is impossible to decide which of them you want

Embarrassment of riches

  • Thanks @MichaelHarvey! With riches, embarrassment seems more intuitive to me--one might genuinely be embarrassed of one's inheritance or successes. But I can't see any sense in which one might be embarrassed of the degree to which a problem can be executed in parallel. It still seems an odd usage of the language to me... – duhaime Jun 2 '18 at 23:05

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