A new technique for estimating and understanding the speed improvement that can result from executing a program on a parallel computer is described. The technique requires no additional programming and minimal effort by a program's author. The analysis begins by tracing a sequential program. A parallelism analyzer uses information from the trace to simulate parallel execution of the program. In addition to predicting parallel performance, the parallelism analyzer measures many aspects of a program's dynamic behavior. Measurements of six substantial programs are presented. These results indicate that the three symbolic programs differ substantially from the numeric programs and, as a consequence, cannot be automatically parallelized with the same compilation techniques.