Paradigms for Structure in an Amorphous Computer

Unknown author (1997-10-01)

Recent developments in microfabrication and nanotechnology will enable the inexpensive manufacturing of massive numbers of tiny computing elements with sensors and actuators. New programming paradigms are required for obtaining organized and coherent behavior from the cooperation of large numbers of unreliable processing elements that are interconnected in unknown, irregular, and possibly time-varying ways. Amorphous computing is the study of developing and programming such ultrascale computing environments. This paper presents an approach to programming an amorphous computer by spontaneously organizing an unstructured collection of processing elements into cooperative groups and hierarchies. This paper introduces a structure called an AC Hierarchy, which logically organizes processors into groups at different levels of granularity. The AC hierarchy simplifies programming of an amorphous computer through new language abstractions, facilitates the design of efficient and robust algorithms, and simplifies the analysis of their performance. Several example applications are presented that greatly benefit from the AC hierarchy. This paper introduces three algorithms for constructing multiple levels of the hierarchy from an unstructured collection of processors.