Semantic considerations in the actor paradigm of concurrent computation

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


This paper discusses the theory of concurrent processing in the context of the actor paradigm. The basic precepts of the actor paradigm are explained. We develop a new formalism to describe the behavior of actors and the evolution of systems of actors. It is hoped that the structure of concurrent computation and the intuitions behind the actor paradigm will be better understood in terms of this model. In particular, we define certain relations between the configurations an actor system may be in and explain how the behavior of actor systems can be understood in terms of these relations. We also define an actor-based language, called Sal, which has a simple syntax but nevertheless embodies the concepts involved. Several examples of simple actor systems are presented. Two kinds of actors are defined and their relevance to spawning concurrency is noted. The low level detail inherent in the transition systems we define retains some purely operational information. The usefulness of our constructs, beside the obvious pedagogic one, will be in the ability to abstract higher level principles to express and prove properties of actor systems, without the combinatorial explosion implied by all the possible inter-leavings of events. We suggest some directions for future research in this area.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSeminar on Concurrency
EditorsGlynn Winskel, Stephen D. Brookes, Andrew William Roscoe
Number of pages29
ISBN (Print)9783540156703
StatePublished - 1985
Externally publishedYes
EventSeminar on Semantics of Concurrency, 1984 - Pittsburgh, United States
Duration: Jul 9 1984Jul 11 1984

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume197 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


OtherSeminar on Semantics of Concurrency, 1984
Country/TerritoryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computer Science(all)


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