Parallel Concurrent ML

John Reppy, Claudio Russo and Yingqi Xiao

The 14th ACM SIGPLAN International Conference on Functional Programming (ICFP 2009)
Edinburgh, Scotland, 31st August - 2nd September 2009


Concurrent ML (CML) is a high-level message-passing language that supports the construction of first-class synchronous abstractions called events. This mechanism has proven quite effective over the years and has been incorporated in a number of other languages. While CML provides a concurrent programming model, its implementation has always been limited to uniprocessors. This limitation is exploited in the implementation of the synchronization protocol that underlies the event mechanism, but with the advent of cheap parallel processing on the desktop (and laptop), it is time for Parallel CML.

Parallel implementation of CML-like primitives for Java and Haskell exist, but build on high-level synchronization constructs that are unlikely to perform well. This paper presents a novel, parallel implementation of CML that exploits a purpose-built optimistic concurrency protocol designed for both correctness and performance on shared-memory multiprocessors. This work extends and completes an earlier protocol that supported just a strict subset of CML with synchronization on input, but not output events. Our main contributions are a model-checked reference implementation of the protocol and two concrete implementations. This paper focuses on Manticore's functional, continuation-based implementation but briefly discusses an independent, thread-based implementation written in C# and running on Microsoft's stock, parallel runtime. Although very different in detail, both derive from the same design. Experimental evaluation of the Manticore implementation reveals acceptable performance.

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