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Title: The design and construction of deadlock-free concurrent systems
Author: Martin, Jeremy Malcolm Randolph
Awarding Body: University of Buckingham
Current Institution: University of Buckingham
Date of Award: 1996
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Throughout our lives we take for granted the safety of complex structures that surround us. We live and work in buildings with scant regard for the lethal currents of electricity and flammable gas coarsing through their veins. We cross high bridges with little fear of them crumbling into the depths below. We are secure in the knowledge that these objects have been constructed using sound engineering principles. Now, increasingly, we are putting OUT lives into the hands of complex computer programs. One could cite aircraft control systems, railway signalling systems, and medical databases as examples. But whereas the disciplines of electrical and mechanical engineering have long been well understood, software engineering is in its infancy. Unlike other fields, there is no generally accepted certification of competence for its practitioners. Formal scientific methods for reliable software production have been developed, but these tend to require a level of mathematical knowledge beyond that of most programmers. Engineers, in general, are usually more concerned with practical issues than with the underlying scientific theory of their particular discipline. They want to get on with the business of building powerful systems. They rely on scientists to provide them with safety rules which they can incorporate into their designs. For instance, a bridge designer needs to know certain formulae to calculate how wide to set the span of an arch - he does not need to know why the formulae work. Software engineering is in need of a battery of similar rules to provide a bridge between theory and practice. The demand for increasing amounts of computing power makes parallel programming very appealing. However additional dangers lurk in this exciting field. In this thesis we explore ways to circumvent one particularly dramatic problem - deadlock. This is a state where none of the constituent processes of a system can agree on how to proceed, so nothing ever happens. Clearly we would desire that any sensible system we construct could never arrive at such a state, but what can we do to ensure that this is indeed the case? We might think to use a computer to check every posssible state of the system. But, given that the number of states of a parallel system usually grows exponentially with the number of processes, we would most likely find the task too great.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available