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This paper outlines the content and performance of ScaLAPACK, a collection of mathematical software for linear algebra computations on distributed memory computers. The importance of developing standards for computational and message passing interfaces is discussed. We present the different components and building blocks of ScaLAPACK, and indicate the difficulties inherent in producing correct codes for networks of heterogeneous processors. Finally, this paper briefly describes future directions for the ScaLAPACK library and concludes by suggesting alternative approaches to mathematical libraries, explaining how ScaLAPACK could be integrated into efficient and user-friendly distributed systems.