Multiparty interactions in dependable distributed systems
With the expansion of computer networks, activities involving computer communication are becoming more and more distributed. Such distribution can include processing, control, data, network management, and security. Although distribution can improve the reliability of a system by replicating components, sometimes an increase in distribution can introduce some undesirable faults. To reduce the risks of introducing, and to improve the chances of removing and tolerating faults when distributing applications, it is important that distributed systems are implemented in an organized way. As in sequential programming, complexity in distributed, in particular parallel, program development can be managed by providing appropriate programming language constructs. Language constructs can help both by supporting encapsulation so as to prevent unwanted interactions between program components and by providing higher-level abstractions that reduce programmer effort by allowing compilers to handle mundane, error-prone aspects of parallel program implementation. A language construct that supports encapsulation of interactions between multiple parties (objects or processes) is referred in the literature as multiparty interaction. In a multiparty interaction, several parties somehow "come together" to produce an intermediate and temporary combined state, use this state to execute some activity, and then leave the interaction and continue their normal execution. There has been a lot of work in the past years on multiparty interaction, but most of it has been concerned with synchronisation, or handshaking, between parties rather than the encapsulation of several activities executed in parallel by the interaction participants. The programmer is therefore left responsible for ensuring that the processes involved in a cooperative activity do not interfere with, or suffer interference from, other processes not involved in the activity. Furthermore, none of this work has discussed the provision of features that would facilitate the design of multiparty interactions that are expected to cope with faults - whether in the environment that the computer system has to deal with, in the operation of the underlying computer hardware or software, or in the design of the processes that are involved in the interaction. In this thesis the concept of multiparty interaction is integrated with the concept of exception handling in concurrent activities. The final result is a language in which the concept of multiparty interaction is extended by providing it with a mechanism to handle concurrent exceptions. This extended concept is called dependable multiparty interaction. The features and requirements for multiparty interaction and exception handling provided in a set of languages surveyed in this thesis, are integrated to describe the new dependable multiparty interaction construct. Additionally, object-oriented architectures for dependable multiparty interactions are described, and a full implementation of one of the architectures is provided. This implementation is then applied to a set of case studies. The case studies show how dependable multiparty interactions can be used to design and implement a safety-critical system, a multiparty programming abstraction, and a parallel computation model.