The goal of the Illinois Open Systems Laboratory is to develop mechanisms to simplify the development of scalable parallel, distributed and mobile computing systems. Such systems are open to interactions with their environment, must satisfy real-time constraints, and often affect physical processes. The approach of the laboratory is multidisciplinary—is conducted in foundational models of concurrency, programming languages, and middleware.
Research in the laboratory is based on the actor model of concurrent computation. Actors are inherently autonomous computational objects which interact with each other by sending messages. Each actor has a unique name the activity of different actors is potentially parallel. Actor systems are highly dynamic: new actors may be created and names of actors exchanged. The model is very general: processes, sensors and actuators can be modelled as actors.
Over the last decade, research in the group has developed a meta-architectural model for middleware. The model has been formalized and applied to dependable computing and software architecture. Programming abstractions have been developed to represent coordination constraints real-time and requirements. The Actor model has been extended to explicitly model mobility and bounded resources, thus providing a powerful formalism for mobile agents.
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