The Ptolemy II model-based design tool provides many features that make it perfect for modeling real-time concurrent systems. Hierarchical heterogeniety, or the ability for components to communcate with different interaction patterns at different levels of a system hierarchy, helps users build systems with complex communication semantics.
As the number of components in real-world systems grows larger and larger, we will also need ways to describe huge models with a relatively small amount of code. To meet this need we propose "composition languages". The key to composition languages is the ability to succinctly specify "higher-order models". As an example, a higher-order model may be used in distributed sort application. The model may be described as a function parameterized by a divide component (or model), a conquer component, and the respective numbers of divide and conquer components. A programmer will specify this higher-order model once and can then use it for an arbitrary number of components with arbitrary divide and conquer components.
Ptalon is our first incarnation of a composition language. As a beta target, we are simply generating Ptolemy-compliant Java code. Ptalon says nothing about computation, only the structure of hierarchical models that communicate through ports. This will make it easy to build Ptalon compilers for other targets, such as embedded C code or VHDL.
Mailing lists and discussion forums may be found under the ptalon link above.
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