Toward a Concurrent Programming Model with Modular Reasoning

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Bagherzadeh, Mehdi
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Hridesh Rajan
Committee Member
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Computer Science

Modular reasoning and concurrent programming are both necessary for scalable development of performant software. Modular reasoning improves scalability by allowing a program to be understood one module at a time. Concurrent programming improves the performance by allowing simultaneous executions of multiple computations in a single program. However, modular reasoning about a concurrent program is difficult because of its thread interference, module inheritance and nondeterministic message orders. The statement of this thesis is that there exists a concurrent programming model that enables modular reasoning about behaviors of its programs in the presence of interference, inheritance and nondeterministic message orders using the following three ideas.

The first idea is an interference control framework that enables modular reasoning in the presence of interference. The technical innovations of the interference control framework are its sparse interference and cognizant interference properties that allow for standard Hoare-style modular reasoning about a concurrent program. Sparse and cognizant interference guarantee that interference happens only at explicitly specified program points and the interference behavior is statically known, respectively.

The second idea is concurrent behavioral subtyping that enables modular reasoning in the presence of inheritance. The technical innovations of concurrent behavioral subtyping are a new definition of behavioral subtyping for a concurrent program in terms of standard interface subtyping and a novel interference subtyping and show that in the presence of encapsulated inheritance the interface subtyping is sufficient to guarantee concurrent behavioral subtyping.

The third and last idea is order types that enables modular reasoning in the presence of nondeterministic message orders. The technical innovations of order types are to disallow message races using existential types that capture unknown module dependencies, abstraction that hides local messaging behavior of the module in its order type and a blame assignment that properly blames the module with bad expression composition or bad module composition and not the module in which the race happens.

These three ideas have the potential to ease software engineering of concurrent systems by improving a developer's ability to design, implement, test and evolve their software one module at a time.

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Fri Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2016