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Encapsulating non-determinacy in an abstract data type with determinate semantics

  • F. Warren Burton (a1)

A parallel program may be indeterminate so that it can adapt its behavior to the number of processors available.

Indeterminate programs are hard to write, understand, modify or verify. They are impossible to debug, since they may not behave the same from one run to the next.

We propose a new construct, a polymorphic abstract data type called an improving value, with operations that have indeterminate behavior but simple determinate semantics. These operations allow the type of indeterminate behavior required by many parallel algorithms.

We define improving values in the context of a functional programming language, but the technique can be used in procedural programs as well.

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F. Warren Burton . 1985 b. Speculative computation, parallelism, and functional programming. IEEE Trans. Comput., C-34(12): 1190–3 (12.).

F. Warren Burton . 1987. Functional programming for concurrent and distributed computing. Comput. J., 30(5): 437–50 (10.).

Derek L. Eager , John Zahorjan and Edward D. Lazowska 1989. Speedup versus efficiency in parallel systems. IEEE Trans. Comput., 38(3): 408–23. (03.).

D.H. Grit and R.L. Page 1981. Deleting irrelevant tasks in an expression-oriented multiprocessor system. ACM Trans. Prog. Lang. and Syst., 3(1): 4959 (01.).

Paul Hudak and Robert M. Keller 1982. Garbage collection and task deletion in distributed applicative processing systems. In Proc. 1982 ACM Symposium on LISP and Functional Programming, pp. 168–78, Pittsburgh, Penn. (08.).

David A. Turner 1985 b. Miranda: A non-strict functional language with polymorphic types. In Jean-Pierre Jouannaud (editor), Functional Programming- Languages and Computer Architecture, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 201, pp. 116. Springer-Verlag.

David A. Turner 1986. An overview of Miranda. SIGPLAN Notices, 21(12): 158–66 (12.).

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Journal of Functional Programming
  • ISSN: 0956-7968
  • EISSN: 1469-7653
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-functional-programming
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