Computer Science Department
School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University


Low-level Concurrent Programming Using the
Relaxed Memory Calculus

Michael J. Sullivan

November 2017

Ph.D. Thesis


Keywords: Programming languages, compilers, concurrency, memory models, relaxed memory

The Relaxed Memory Calculus (RMC) is a novel approach for portable lowlevel concurrent programming in the presence of the the relaxed memory behavior caused by modern hardware architectures and optimizing compilers. RMC takes a declarative approach to programming with relaxed memory: programmers explicitly specify constraints on execution order and on the visibility of writes. This differs from other low-level programming language memory models, which–when they exist–are usually based on ordering annotations attached to synchronization operations and/or explicit memory barriers.

In this thesis, we argue that this declarative approach based on explicit programmer-specified constraints is a practical approach for implementing low-level concurrent algorithms. To this end, we present RMC-C++, an extension of C++ with RMC constraints, and rmc-compiler, an LLVM based compiler for it.

172 pages

Thesis Committee:
Karl Crary (Chair)
Kayvon Fatahalian
Todd Mowry
Paul McKenney (IBM)

Frank Pfenning, Head, Computer Science Department
Andrew W. Moore, Dean, School of Computer Science

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