Istituto di Scienza e Tecnologie dell'Informazione     
Bellia M., Levi G. Distributed computing with active data structures. Internal note IEI-B76-04, 1976.
The paper introduces a formalism based on a unique type of object, the functional unit, which is a module acting both as a procedure and as a data structure. Communication between functional units is achieved by message exchanging. The main activity of each functional unit is receiving and sending messages. Interaction among functional units allows to deal in a natural way with concurrency and other non-standard control regimes. One motivation of this paper is showing how data structures are conveniently described by functional units hence they can be implemented "as active objects". Functional units acting as data types are similar to SIMULA-67 classes, since type they are responsible for all the operations on data of their type. Our main concern is stressing s programming methodology which centers around the definition of functional units acting as data types. This methodology is discussed in the framework of the concepts of modularity and structuredness. The paper will show how a data type definition can be splitted into two separate steps. The first one consists of data type specification (axiomatisation) while the second one is related to the implementation. The relevance of data types specification in connection with a top-down-like programming methodology is finally discussed.

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