Proceedings of the Thirteenth ACM SIGPLAN workshop on Erlang - Erlang '14
Erlang implements a message-passing execution model in which concurrent processes send each other messages asynchronously. This model is inherently non-deterministic: a process can receive messages sent by any process which knows its process identifier, leading to an exponential number of possible executions based on the number messages received. Concurrent programs in nondeterministic languages are notoriously hard to prove correct and have led to well-known disasters. Furthermore, Erlang
... ely provides distribution and process clustering. This enables processes to asynchronously communicate between different virtual machines across the network, which increases the potential non-determinism. We propose a new execution model for Erlang, "Deterministic Dataflow Programming", based on a highly available, scalable single-assignment data store implemented on top of the riak core distributed systems framework. This execution model provides concurrent communication between Erlang processes, yet has no observable non-determinism. Given the same input values, a deterministic dataflow program will always return the same output values, or never return; liveness under failures is sacrificed to ensure safety. Our proposal provides a distributed deterministic dataflow solution that operates transparently over distributed Erlang, providing the ability to have highly-available, fault-tolerant, deterministic computations. • Prototype implementation of a deterministic dataflow extension to Erlang called Derflow, with examples of its usage for common computations.