Multiprocessor execution of functional programs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Functional languages have recently gained attention as vehicles for programming in a concise and elegant manner. In addition, it has been suggested that functional programming provides a natural methodology for programming multiprocessor computers. This paper describes research that was performed to demonstrate that multiprocessor execution of functional programs on current multiprocessors is feasible, and results in a significant reduction in their execution times. Two implementations of the functional language ALFL were built on commercially available multiprocessors. Alfalfa is an implementation on the Intel iPSC hypercube multiprocessor, and Buckwheat is an implementation on the Encore Multimax shared-memory multiprocessor. Each implementation includes a compiler that performs automatic decomposition of ALFL programs and a run-time system that supports their execution. The compiler is responsible for detecting the inherent parallelism in a program, and decomposing the program into a collection of tasks, called serial combinators, that can be executed in parallel. The abstract machine model supported by Alfalfa and Buckwheat is called heterogeneous graph reduction, which is a hybrid of graph reduction and conventional stack-oriented execution. This model supports parallelism, lazy evaluation, and highe order functions while at the same time making efficient use of the processors in the system. The Alfalfa and Buckwheat runtime systems support dynamic load balancing, interprocessor communication (if required), and storage management. A large number of experiments were performed on Alfalfa and Buckwheat for a variety of programs. The results of these experiments, as well as the conclusions drawn from them, are presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)425-473
Number of pages49
JournalInternational Journal of Parallel Programming
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1988


  • Funtional languages
  • combinators
  • graph reduction
  • parallelism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Information Systems


Dive into the research topics of 'Multiprocessor execution of functional programs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this