Revisiting Actor Programming in C++

Dominik Charousset, Raphael Hiesgen, Thomas C. Schmidt
Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, Internet Technologies Group, Department Informatik, HAW Hamburg, Berliner Tor 7, D-20099 Hamburg, Germany
arXiv:1505.07368 [cs.PL], (27 May 2015)


   title={Revisiting Actor Programming in C++},

   author={Charousset, Dominik and Hiesgen, Raphael and Schmidt, Thomas C.},






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The actor model of computation has gained significant popularity over the last decade. Its high level of abstraction makes it appealing for concurrent applications in parallel and distributed systems. However, designing a real-world actor framework that subsumes full scalability, strong reliability, and high resource efficiency requires many conceptual and algorithmic additives to the original model. In this paper, we report on designing and building CAF, the "C++ Actor Framework". CAF targets at providing a concurrent and distributed native environment for scaling up to very large, high-performance applications, and equally well down to small constrained systems. We present the key specifications and design concepts – in particular a message-transparent architecture, type-safe message interfaces, and pattern matching facilities – that make native actors a viable approach for many robust, elastic, and highly distributed developments. We demonstrate the feasibility of CAF in three scenarios: first for elastic, upscaling environments, second for including heterogeneous hardware like GPGPUs, and third for distributed runtime systems. Extensive performance evaluations indicate ideal runtime behaviour for up to 64 cores at very low memory footprint, or in the presence of GPUs. In these tests, CAF continuously outperforms the competing actor environments Erlang, Charm++, SalsaLite, Scala, ActorFoundry, and even the OpenMPI.
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