Skip to main content Accesibility Help

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.

Hide All
Bird, Richard and Wadler, Philip. 1988. Introduction to Functional Programming. Prentice Hall.
Burton, F. Warren. 1985 a. Controlling speculative computation in a parallel functional programming language. In Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems, pp. 453–8, Denver, Colorado(May).
Burton, F. Warren. 1985 b. Speculative computation, parallelism, and functional programming. IEEE Trans. Comput., C-34(12): 1190–3 (12.).
Burton, F. Warren. 1987. Functional programming for concurrent and distributed computing. Comput. J., 30(5): 437–50 (10.).
Burton, F. Warren. 1989. Indeterminate behavior with determinate semantics in parallel programs. In Proc. Functional Programming Languages and Computer Architecture.
Eager, Derek L., Zahorjan, John and Lazowska, Edward D. 1989. Speedup versus efficiency in parallel systems. IEEE Trans. Comput., 38(3): 408–23. (03.).
Grit, D.H. and Page, R.L. 1981. Deleting irrelevant tasks in an expression-oriented multiprocessor system. ACM Trans. Prog. Lang. and Syst., 3(1): 4959 (01.).
Horowitz, Ellis and Sahni, Sartaj. 1978. Fundamentals of Computer Algorithms. Computer Science Press.
Hudak, Paul and Keller, Robert M. 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.).
Nilsson, Nils J. 1971. Problem-Solving Methods in Artificial Intelligence. McGraw-Hill.
Turner, David A. 1985 a. Functional programs as executable specifications. In Hoare, C. A. R. and Shepherdson, J. (editors), Mathematical Logic and Programming Languages, pp. 2954. Prentice-Hall.
Turner, David A. 1985 b. Miranda: A non-strict functional language with polymorphic types. In Jouannaud, Jean-Pierre (editor), Functional Programming- Languages and Computer Architecture, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 201, pp. 116. Springer-Verlag.
Turner, David A. 1986. An overview of Miranda. SIGPLAN Notices, 21(12): 158–66 (12.).
Burton, F. WarrenSchool of Computing Science, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada V5A IS6
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Functional Programming
  • ISSN: 0956-7968
  • EISSN: 1469-7653
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-functional-programming
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed

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

  • F. Warren Burton (a1)
Submit a response


No Discussions have been published for this article.


Reply to: Submit a response

Your details

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *