An Actor-Oriented Framework for Distributed Software Systems

Xiaojun Liu and Yang Zhao
(Professor Edward A. Lee)

A large number of embedded systems applications require the coordination of physically distributed components or networked embedded sub-systems. Distributing system components across a network can improve the robustness of a system and simplify its architecture by allowing components to run concurrently and independently. However, designing and implementing these systems can be complex and difficult.

In recent years, several middleware technologies, such as the Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA) and the Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM), have been introduced. They are based on object-oriented APIs that offer a level of abstraction and facilitate distributed systems development, but their programming models are too liberal to analyze their formal properties. It is difficult to port an application developed using one particular middleware technology to another.

In this project, we are interested in developing a framework for distributed software systems based on the Ptolemy II actor-oriented infrastructure. We will explore the design of common actor interfaces on top of today’s object-oriented middleware--actor components that comply with such interfaces can be deployed in different middleware environments. We will also explore the concept of models of computation in distributed systems and adapt the current Ptolemy II execution model to distributed architectures. By doing so, it will be possible to provide guarantees on the behavior of the distributed systems, rather than having properties emerge as a by-product of a specific middleware implementation.

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