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Modeling concurrency with partial orders


Concurrency has been expressed variously in terms of formal languages (typically via the shuffle operator), partial orders, and temporal logic,inter alia. In this paper we extract from these three approaches a single hybrid approach having a rich language that mixes algebra and logic and having a natural class of models of concurrent processes. The heart of the approach is a notion of partial string derived from the view of a string as a linearly ordered multiset by relaxing the linearity constraint, thereby permitting partially ordered multisets orpomsets. Just as sets of strings form languages, so do sets of pomsets form processes. We introduce a number of operations useful for specifying concurrent processes and demonstrate their utility on some basic examples. Although none of the operations is particularly oriented to nets it is nevertheless possible to use them to express processes constructed as a net of subprocesses, and more generally as a system consisting of components. The general benefits of the approach are that it is conceptually straightforward, involves fewer artificial constructs than many competing models of concurrency, yet is applicable to a considerably wider range of types of systems, including systems with buses and ethernets, analog systems, and real-time systems.

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Revision of “Some Constructions for Order-Theoretic Models of Concurrency” [Ref. 1].

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Pratt, V. Modeling concurrency with partial orders. Int J Parallel Prog 15, 33–71 (1986).

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Key Words

  • Concurrency
  • partial order
  • pomset
  • temporal logic
  • computation model