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Birrell's Distributed Reference Listing Revisited

Birrell's Distributed Reference Listing Revisited
Birrell's Distributed Reference Listing Revisited
The Java RMI collector is arguably the most widely used distributed garbage collector. Its distributed reference listing algorithm was introduced by Birrell in the context of Network Objects, where the description was informal and heavily biased toward implementation. In this paper, we formalise this algorithm in an implementation-independent manner, which allows us to clarify weaknesses of the initial presentation. In particular, we discover cases critical to the correctness of the algorithm that are not accounted for by Birrell. We use our formalisation to derive an invariant-based proof of correctness of the algorithm that avoids notoriously difficult temporal reasoning. Furthermore, we offer a novel graphical representation of the state transition diagram, which we use to provide intuitive explanations of the algorithm and to investigate its tolerance to faults in a systematic manner. Finally, we examine how the algorithm may be optimised, either by placing constraints on message channels or by tightening the coupling between application program and distributed garbage collector.
1344-1395
Moreau, Luc
033c63dd-3fe9-4040-849f-dfccbe0406f8
Dickman, Peter
bfdf1274-86d2-4d9e-9534-e43e832bbeae
Jones, Richard
b23db33c-778b-4560-9c06-eb8af3bc3fb6
Moreau, Luc
033c63dd-3fe9-4040-849f-dfccbe0406f8
Dickman, Peter
bfdf1274-86d2-4d9e-9534-e43e832bbeae
Jones, Richard
b23db33c-778b-4560-9c06-eb8af3bc3fb6

Moreau, Luc, Dickman, Peter and Jones, Richard (2005) Birrell's Distributed Reference Listing Revisited. ACM Transactions on Programming Languages and Systems, 27 (6), 1344-1395. (doi:10.1145/1108970.1108976).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The Java RMI collector is arguably the most widely used distributed garbage collector. Its distributed reference listing algorithm was introduced by Birrell in the context of Network Objects, where the description was informal and heavily biased toward implementation. In this paper, we formalise this algorithm in an implementation-independent manner, which allows us to clarify weaknesses of the initial presentation. In particular, we discover cases critical to the correctness of the algorithm that are not accounted for by Birrell. We use our formalisation to derive an invariant-based proof of correctness of the algorithm that avoids notoriously difficult temporal reasoning. Furthermore, we offer a novel graphical representation of the state transition diagram, which we use to provide intuitive explanations of the algorithm and to investigate its tolerance to faults in a systematic manner. Finally, we examine how the algorithm may be optimised, either by placing constraints on message channels or by tightening the coupling between application program and distributed garbage collector.

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Published date: November 2005
Organisations: Web & Internet Science

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 259449
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/259449
PURE UUID: babcab6c-a030-4f5e-83cc-551b4de9687b
ORCID for Luc Moreau: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-3494-120X

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 28 Jun 2004
Last modified: 20 Jul 2019 01:17

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