A Framework For Comparing Models of Computation

by Edward A. Lee and Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli

IEEE Transactions on CAD, Vol. 17, No. 12, December 1998
(Revised from Memorandum UCB/ERL M97/11, EECS, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA 94720, January 30, 1997)

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We give a denotational framework (a "meta model") within which certain properties of models of computation can be compared. It describes concurrent processes in general terms as sets of possible behaviors. A process is determinate if given the constraints imposed by the inputs there are exactly one or exactly zero behaviors. Compositions of processes are processes with behaviors in the intersection of the behaviors of the component processes. The interaction between processes is through signals, which are collections of events. Each event is a value-tag pair, where the tags can come from a partially ordered or totally ordered set. Timed models are where the set of tags is totally ordered. Synchronous events share the same tag, and synchronous signals contain events with the same set of tags. Synchronous processes have only synchronous signals as behaviors. Strict causality (in timed tag systems) and continuity (in untimed tag systems) ensure determinacy under certain technical conditions. The framework is used to compare certain essential features of various models of computation, including Kahn process networks, dataflow, sequential processes, concurrent sequential processes with rendezvous, Petri nets, and discrete-event systems.
Send comments to Edward A. Lee at eal at eecs berkeley edu .