April 1st, 2007

state machines & non-blocking algs

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Chris Purcell writes:

Re. your talk: State machines permeate my algorithms, too. I suspect it’s because they are easy to do atomically, make the “progress” through an algorithm obvious (simplifying concurrent assistance), and make enumerating all cases (the bane of lock-free algorithms) both explicit and fundamental.

This is absolutely the Right Thing To Do here.  The hardware guys have been using State Machines for years to do concurrent algorithms – in hardware.  That is, they have tool support such that they can write large State Machines, have the description maintained by many people (CVS for State Machines?), automatically tested, executable code generated (Verilog), etc.  I think the concurrent algorithms crowd definitely needs to head down this road as well.
Cliff

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