I just watched a presentation from Mar 11, 2012, where Paul Graham / YCombinator is giving away seven billion dollar startup ideas:

  1. A New Search Engine
  2. Replace Email
  3. Replace Universities
  4. Internet Drama
  5. The Next Steve Jobs
  6. Bring Back Moore’s Law
  7. Ongoing Diagnosis

Idea 6 on the list, is basically about the need to invent the sufficiently smart compiler, capable of understanding how to automatically break down a problem (expressed in code) into pieces which can be executed in parallell, in order to utilize GPUs and/or a lot of CPU cores.

Building such a compiler is probably extremely difficult, if at all possible, perhaps mainly due to the complexity possible to express in C, C++, Python, Java or any normal imperative language.

Imagine instead the same problem but for a declarative language like SQL. Would it be equally difficult? Core member Bruce Momjian of the PostgreSQL team have already expressed his ideas on how to tackle the problem.

When thinking about it, the query planner is a bit like a compiler, kind of. It takes the SQL and figures out a smart way to execute it, breaking it down into a lot of sub-tasks, of which some could with benefit be executed in parallel.

So let’s hope the great pg-hackers will pull this off, so we don’t have to pay some future start-up compiler-billionaire license fees to get automatic parallelism.