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Languages and Multithreading

Some references on the state of mainstream programming languages for multithreading:
Software and the Concurrency Revolution (in ACM Queue) has some really good observations about what problems exist and why current techniques don't solve them, or don't solve them yet. The author argues that the problems need to solved for imperatiev languages, not just for functional languages.

Tim Bray's On Threads describes the problems that exist in the Java Standard Libraries, with lots of redundant locking at different levels—and you can still have concurrency problems because it doesn't help the programmer address safety and deadlock at the application level. Until I read this I didn't realize the situation was so bad in that arena.

Some cutting-edge (avant-garde?) languages are marginally better at this stuff, but I agree with the first author that the problem should be solved with new abstractions that can be applied in any langauge; it's not sufficient to solve this just in functional languages, as there's a lot of code out there that's not going to be rewritten in another language anytime soon. Even the best functional approaches (I'm thinking of STM in Concurrent Haskell and Erlang) don't seem to have the problem locked down—Haskell's STM moots referential transparency; and Erlang's message-passing model hasn't been shown to be powerful enough for all applications. This is a pretty interesting research area and I want to learn more.

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