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Issues in Distributed Processing -- An Overview of Two Workshops

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000131220D
Original Publication Date: 1978-Jan-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Nov-10
Document File: 10 page(s) / 53K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

Richard H. Eckhouse, Jr.: AUTHOR [+5]

Abstract

Two workshops on distributed processing were held at Brown University in 1976 and 1977, sponsored by the Army Research Office, the National Science Foundation, and the Office of Naval Research. The workshops had three goals: (1) to classify various ongoing research efforts, to identify salient characteristics of distributed processing, and to propose standard terminology; (2) to establish what constitutes the state of the art, to discover common areas of research, to exchange specific solutions that might be generalized, and to determine which techniques worked (or did not) and why;

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

This record contains textual material that is copyright ©; 1978 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Contact the IEEE Computer Society http://www.computer.org/ (714-821-8380) for copies of the complete work that was the source of this textual material and for all use beyond that as a record from the SPI Database.

Issues in Distributed Processing -- An Overview of Two Workshops

Richard H. Eckhouse, Jr.

Digital Equipment Corporation
John A. Stankovic
Andries van Dam
Brown University

Two workshops on distributed processing were held at Brown University in 1976 and 1977, sponsored by the Army Research Office, the National Science Foundation, and the Office of Naval Research. The workshops had three goals:

(1) to classify various ongoing research efforts, to identify salient characteristics of distributed processing, and to propose standard terminology;

(2) to establish what constitutes the state of the art, to discover common areas of research, to exchange specific solutions that might be generalized, and to determine which techniques worked (or did not) and why;

(3) to identify problem areas and to indicate fruitful directions for future research.

As might be expected, we were only partially successful. This summary is intended to convey the spirit of the meetings and to provide an overview of the important technical interchanges. The actual detailed account of the sessions is recorded in the full transcripts, cited in the editors' overview to this issue. Participants' names and affiliations are listed in the table.

Themes and viewpoints

As Philip Enslow points out in his article in this issue, the field of distributed processing currently suffers from the lack of a precise definition of the term. A frequent comment throughout the workshop was, "But that s not distributed processing!" We felt the meaning of the term "distributed processing" should identify a specific set of research problems and issues, and much argument therefore centered on identifying such salient issues and trying to establish whether they were new or unique to distributed processing. There are many dimensions (aspects such as processors, data. and control} of a system which may be distributed -- as Enslow again discusses -- and each dimension really has a spectrum of values; therefore, where each person draws the line between distributed and nondistributed systems becomes largely a matter of personal interpretation.

Even though the researchers could not agree among themselves, they generally agreed that industry's notions of what constitutes distributed processing are not rigorous enough. Decentralized computing with minicomputers or intelligent terminals connected to a mainframe, in a star or hierarchical configuration, is certainly a valuable technique. The participants did not consider this to be distributed processing in the general sense, because...