May 3-6, 2015 Asilomar, California

The Need for Language Support for Fault-Tolerant Distributed Systems

Cezara Dragoi, Thomas Henzinger, Damien Zufferey

Fault-tolerant distributed algorithms play an important role in many critical/high-availability applications. These algorithms are notoriously difficult to implement correctly, due to asynchronous communication and the occurrence of faults, such as the network dropping messages or computers crashing. Nonetheless there is surprisingly little language and verification support to build distributed systems based on fault-tolerant algorithms. In this paper, we present some of the challenges that a designer has to overcome to implement a fault-tolerant distributed system. Then we review different models that have been proposed to reason about distributed algorithms and sketch how such a model can form the basis for a domain-specific programming language. Adopting a high-level programming model can simplify the programmer's life and make the code amenable to automated verification, while still compiling to efficiently executable code. We conclude by summarizing the current status of an ongoing language design and implementation project that is based on this idea.