Comparing Models of Computation

by Edward A. Lee and Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli

to appear: Proc. of ICCAD, San Jose, CA, Nov. 10-14, 1996.

Prepublished version
Published version


We give a denotational framework (a "meta model") within which certain properties of models of computation can be understood and compared. It describes concurrent processes as sets of possible behaviors. Compositions of processes are given as intersections of their behaviors. 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 systems contain synchronous signals. Strict causality (in timed systems) and continuity (in untimed 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.