A Generalized Kahn Principle for Abstract Asynchronous Networks

Samson Abramsky

Our general motivation is to answer the question: "What is a model of concurrent computation?". As a preliminary exercise, we study dataflow networks. We develop a very general notion of model for asynchronous networks. The "Kahn Principle", which states that a network built from functional nodes is the least fixpoint of a system of equations associated with the network, has become a benchmark for the formal study of dataflow networks. We formulate a generalized version of the Kahn Principle, which applies to a large class of non-deterministic systems, in the setting of abstract asynchronous networks; and prove that the Kahn Principle holds under certain natural assumptions on the model. We also show that a class of models, which represent networks that compute over arbitrary event structures, generalizing dataflow networks which compute over streams, satisfy these assumptions.

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