Abstract The construction of large software systems is always achieved through assembly of independently written components-program modules. For these software components to work together, they must share a common set of data types and principles for representing structured data such as arrays of values and files. This common set of tools for creating and operating on data objects is provided by the infrastructure of the computer system:the hardware, operating system and runtime code. Because the nature and properties of these tools are crucial for correct operation of software components and their inter-operation, it is essential to have a precise specification that may be used for verifying correctness of application software on one hand, and to verify correctness of system behavior on the other. We call such a specification a program execution model (PXM). It is evident that the properties of the PXM implemented by a computer system can have serious impact on the ability of application programmers to practice modular software construction. This paper discusses the concept of program execution models and presents a set of principles that a PXM must satisfy to provide a sound basis for modular software construction. Because parallel program execution on computer systems with many processing units is an essential part of contemporary computing environments, the expression of parallelism and modular software construction using components involving parallel operations is included in this treatment. The conclusion is that it is possible to build computer systems that implement a PXM within which any parallel program may be used, unmodified, as a component for building more substantial parallel programs.
The research results reported here were supported in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF) of USA under Award 12-17498.
About author: Jack B. Dennis is Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, Emeritus, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Prof. Dennis received his education at MIT, completing the undergraduate degree program in electrical engineering and earning the doctorate in 1958 for a thesis entitled "Mathematical Programming and Electrical networks" that links the two fields of operations research and electrical circuits. He joined the MIT faculty in the Department of Electrical Engineering and was appointed full professor in 1969. He is widely known for his contributions in the field of computer system architecture, in particular virtual memory concepts, data flow models of computing, and computer system designs that embody these ideas. Since 1987 he has been working as an independent consultant and research scientist on projects that involve parallel computer hardware and software and their interaction. Professor Dennis has guided the doctoral research of more than 25 MIT graduate students. He has been an organizer of major professional conferences, and has served many times on program committees and as a reviewer of technical papers. He is currently an active member of IFIP Working Group 2.8:Functional Programming. Prof. Dennis is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and was awarded the ACM/IEEE Eckert-Mauchly Award for 1984. He is a Fellow of the ACM and IEEE. In 2012 Prof. Dennis was awarded the IEEE John von Neumann Medal "for fundamental abstractions to implement protection in operating systems and for the dataflow programming paradigm".
Cite this article:
Jack B. Dennis.Principles to Support Modular Software Construction[J] Journal of Computer Science and Technology, 2017,V32(1): 3-10
 Modular Programming:Proceedings of a National Sym posium. Information and Systems Press, Cambridge, MA, 1968. Sussmann J M, Goodman R V. Implementing ICES mod ule management unfer OS/360. In Modular Programming:Proceedings of a National Symposium, 1968, pp.69-84. Lee E A. The problem with threads. IEEE Computer, 2006, 39(5):33-42. Blelloch G E. Vector Models for Data-parallel Computing. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, USA, 1990. Gropp W, Lusk E, Skjellum A. Using MPI:Portable Paral lel Programming with the Message-Passing Interface. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1994. Parnas D L. On the criteria to be used in decomposing systems into modules. Commun. ACM, 1972, 15(12):1053-1058. Milner R, Tofte M, Harper R. The Definition of Standard ML. Cambridge, MA, USA:MIT Press, 1990. Jack B. Dennis. Stream data types for signal processing. In Advances in Dataflow Architecture and Multithreading, Gaudiot J L, Bic L (eds.), IEEE Computer Society Press, 1995. Kelly Jr. J, Lochbaum C, Vyssotsky V A. A block diagram compiler. Bell Labs Technical Journal, 1961, 40(3):669-676. McGraw J, Skedzielewski S, Allan S et al. SISAL:Streams and iteration in a single assignment language. Technical Report M-146, Rev. 1., Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA, 1985. Soltis F G. Inside the AS/400. Duke Press, 1996. McCarthy J. Recursive functions of symbolic expressions and their computation by machine, part I. ACM Communications, 1960, 3(4):184-195. Wirth N. The programming language Pascal. Acta Informatica, 1971, 1:35-63. Liskov B, Atkinson R, Bloom T et al. CLU Reference Manual. New York, NY, USA:Springer-Verlag New York, Inc., 1984. Tou J, Wegner P. Data structures in programming languages. ACM SIGPLAN Notices 6, 1971, pp.171-190. Dennis J B. A parallel program execution model supporting modular software construction. In Proc. the Conf. Massively Parallel Programming Models, Nov. 1997, pp.50-60.