Actors: A unifying model for parallel and distributed computing

Gul A. Agha, Wooyoung Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Parallel computing and distributed computing have traditionally evolved as two separate research disciplines. Parallel computing has addressed problems of communication-intensive computation on tightly-coupled processors while distributed computing has been concerned with coordination, availability, timeliness, etc., of more loosely coupled computations. Current trends, such as parallel computing on networks of conventional processors and Internet computing, suggest the advantages of unifying these two disciplines. Actors provide a flexible model of computation which supports both parallel and distributed computing. One may evaluate the utility of a programming paradigm in terms of four criteria: expressiveness, portability, efficiency, and performance predictability. We discuss how the Actor model and programming methods based on it support these goals. In particular, we provide an overview of the state of the art in Actor languages and their implementation. Finally, we place this work in the context of recent developments in middleware, the Java language, and agents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1263-1277
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Systems Architecture
Issue number15
StatePublished - Sep 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Hardware and Architecture


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