ACTORS: A Model of Concurrent Computation in Distributed Systems

Unknown author (1985-06-01)

A foundational model of concurrency is developed in this thesis. We examine issues in the design of parallel systems and show why the actor model is suitable for exploiting large-scale parallelism. Concurrency in actors is constrained only by the availability of hardware resources and by the logical dependence inherent in the computation. Unlike dataflow and functional programming, however, actors are dynamically reconfigurable and can model shared resources with changing local state. Concurrency is spawned in actors using asynchronous message-passing, pipelining, and the dynamic creation of actors. This thesis deals with some central issues in distributed computing. Specifically, problems of divergence and deadlock are addressed. For example, actors permit dynamic deadlock detection and removal. The problem of divergence is contained because independent transactions can execute concurrently and potentially infinite processes are nevertheless available for interaction.