Open Systems Laboratory at Illinois

Actors: a unifying model for parallel and distributed computing

By Gul A. Agha and WooYoung Kim. Journal of Systems Architecture, 45(15):1263–1277, 1999.

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Parallel computing and distributed computing have traditionally evolved as two separate research disciplines. Parallel computing has addressed problems of communication-intensive computation on tightly-coupled processors while distributed computing has been concerned with coordination, availability, timeliness, etc., of more loosely coupled computations. Current trends, such as parallel computing on networks of conventional processors and Internet computing, suggest the advantages of unifying these two disciplines. Actors provide a flexible model of computation which supports both parallel and distributed computing. One may evaluate the utility of a programming paradigm in terms of four criteria: expressiveness, portability, efficiency, and performance predictability. We discuss how the Actor model and programming methods based on it support these goals. In particular, we provide an overview of the state of the art in Actor languages and their implementation. Finally, we place this work in the context of recent developments in middleware, the Java language, and agents.


    author = "Agha, Gul A. and Kim, WooYoung",
    title = "Actors: A unifying model for parallel and distributed
    ee = "",
    journal = "Journal of Systems Architecture",
    number = "15",
    pages = "1263-1277",
    volume = "45",
    year = "1999",