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The Vesta parallel file system is intended to solve the I/O problems of massively parallel multicomputers executing numerically intensive scientific applications. It provides parallel access from the applications to files distributed across multiple storage nodes in the multicomputer, thereby exposing an opportunity for high-bandwidth data transfer across the multicomputer's low-latency network. The Vesta interface provides a user-defined parallel view of file data, which gives users some control over the layout of data. This is useful for tailoring data layout to much common access patterns. The interface also allows user-defined partitioning and repartitioning of files without moving data among storage nodes. Libraries with higher-level interfaces that hide the layout details, while exploiting the power of parallel access, may be implemented above the basic interface. It is shown how collective I/O operations can be implemented, and six parallel access modes to Vesta files are defined. Each mode has unique characteristics in terms of how the processes share the file and how their accesses are interleaved. The combination of user-defined file partitioning and the six access modes gives users very versatile parallel file access.