As a student in applied maths, I can remember being told that in the 1940s there were early attempts of parallel computing not using any machine but only human calculation power.

I believe the story ran that students were sitting in a classroom and exchanging piece of papers between neighbours. I also believe I was told it was led by Kolmogorov. I have no idea whether this has any true basis and couldn't find a lead on the web.

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    $\begingroup$ This was the usual way computation projects like the ones described in en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathematical_Tables_Project were run . philsoc.org/2001Spring/2132transcript.html says the technique was used by de Prony ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaspard_de_Prony#Mechanizing_calculation ) this way. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 24, 2020 at 12:56
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks @kimchilover, I've read this but it is not exactly what I'm asking about. Here, human computers are employed to achieve a large number of separate calculations, after work has been divided and reduced to simple arithmetic. However, the story I heard was about actual parallel computing, where messages need to be exchanged between computing clerks in order to continue calculation. $\endgroup$
    – Joce
    Commented Oct 24, 2020 at 21:08
  • $\begingroup$ Such a classroom exercise can be done to illustrate the "message-passing algorithm", in particular. I don't have any idea who first might have done this with people emulating nodes. :) $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 21:46


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