DataFlowProgrammingLanguages - Advances in Dataflow...

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Unformatted text preview: Advances in Dataflow Programming Languages WESLEY M. JOHNSTON, J. R. PAUL HANNA, AND RICHARD J. MILLAR University of Ulster Abstract. Many developments have taken place within dataflow programming languages in the past decade. In particular, there has been a great deal of activity and advancement in the field of dataflow visual programming languages. The motivation for this article is to review the content of these recent developments and how they came about. It is supported by an initial review of dataflow programming in the 1970s and 1980s that led to current topics of research. It then discusses how dataflow programming evolved toward a hybrid von Neumann dataflow formulation, and adopted a more coarse-grained approach. Recent trends toward dataflow visual programming languages are then discussed with reference to key graphical dataflow languages and their development environments. Finally, the article details four key open topics in dataflow programming languages. Categories and Subject Descriptors: A.1 [ Introductory and Survey ]; C.1 [ Processor Architectures ]; D.2 [ Software Engineering ]; D.3 [ Programming Languages ] General Terms: Languages, Theory Additional Key Words and Phrases: Dataflow, software engineering, graphical programming, component software, multithreading, co-ordination languages, data flow visual programming 1. INTRODUCTION The original motivation for research into dataflow was the exploitation of mas- sive parallelism. Therefore, much work was done to develop ways to program parallel processors. However, one school of thought held that conventional von Neumann processors were inherently un- suitable for the exploitation of parallelism [Dennis and Misunas 1975; Weng 1975]. The two major criticisms that were lev- eled at von Neumann hardware were di- rected at its global program counter and global updatable memory [Silc et al. 1998], Authors addresses: Faculty of Engineering, University of Ulster, Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland, BT37 0QB; email: W. M. Johnston,; J. R. P. Hanna and R. J. Millar, { p.hanna,rj.millar } @ Permission to make digital/hard copy of part or all of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that the copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage, the copyright notice, the title of the publication, and its date appear, and notice is given that copying is by permission of ACM, Inc. To copy otherwise, to republish, to post on servers, or to redistribute to lists requires prior specific permission and/or a fee. c 2004 ACM 0360-0300/04/0300-0001 $5.00 both of which had become bottlenecks [Ackerman 1982; Backus 1978]. The al- ternative proposal was the dataflow archi- tecture [Davis 1978; Dennis and Misunas 1975; Weng 1975], which avoids both of these bottlenecks by using only local mem- ory and by executing instructions as soon as their operands become available. The name dataflow comes from the conceptual...
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DataFlowProgrammingLanguages - Advances in Dataflow...

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