Universiteit Leiden

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Automata-theoretic protocol programming

Promotor: F. Arbab

S.T.Q. Jongmans
03 maart 2016
Thesis in Leiden Repository

Parallel programming has become essential for writing scalable programs on general hardware. Conceptually, every parallel program consists of workers, which implement primary units of sequential computation, and protocols, which implement the rules of interaction that workers must abide by. As programmers have been writing sequential code for decades, programming workers poses no new fundamental challenges. What is new---and notoriously difficult---is programming of protocols. In this thesis, I study an approach to protocol programming where programmers implement their workers in an existing general-purpose language (GPL), while they implement their protocols in a complementary domain-specific language (DSL). DSLs for protocols enable programmers to express interaction among workers at a higher level of abstraction than the level of abstraction supported by today's GPLs, thereby addressing a number of protocol programming issues with today's GPLs. In particular, in this thesis, I develop a DSL for protocols based on a theory of formal automata and their languages. The specific automata that I consider, called constraint automata, have transition labels with a richer structure than alphabet symbols in classical automata theory. Exactly these richer transition labels make constraint automata suitable for modeling protocols.