Security and Modularity in Message Passing

Unknown author (1979-02)

This report describes research done at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Support for the laboratory's artificial intelligence research is provided in part by the Office of Naval Research of the Department of Defense under contract N00014-75-C-0522.

Working Paper

This paper addresses theoretical issues involved for the implementation of security and modularity in concurrent systems. It explicates the theory behind a mechanism for safely delegating messages to shared handlers in order to increase the modularity of concurrent systems. Our mechanism has the property that the actions caused by delegated messages are atomic. That is the handling of a message delegated by a client actor appears to be indivisible to other users of the actor. Our mechanism for delegating communications is a generalization suitable for use in concurrent systems of the sub-class mechanism of SIMULA. Our mechanism has the benefit that it easily lends itself to the implementation of efficient flexible access control mechanisms in distributed systems. It is a generalization of the protection mechanisms provided by capability-based system, access control lists, and the access control mechanisms provided by PDP-10 SIMULA.