Keynote: Actors for CyberThings

Carl Hewitt
Creator of Actor Model

Actors are becoming ever more important because of our increasing dependence on the following:  
  • coherent many-core (soon to be every-word-tagged) architectures, for which Actor concurrency is ideally suited.
  • the Internet of Things, for which Actors are helpful in standardization.
In carrying out the above work, it is helpful to distinguish between the following:
  1. The Actor Model (which can be used to directly model all physically possible computation) is being increasingly used in industrial products, e.g., eBay, Microsoft, Twitter, etc.
  2. ActorScript (which is a particular very efficient and powerful programming system for implementing Actors) can be used to guide practical implementations in currently available programming environments, e.g., Erlang, Elixir, Java, C++, C#, JavaScript, Scala, etc.
Specific examples will be discussed of how to use ActorScript and the Actor Model for engineering large-scale information systems in datacenters and for the Internet of Things. In particular, Actors can help avoid many pitfalls and problems that are commonly encountered.

Technical and engineering aspects of Actors for CyberThings even bear on possible resolutions of the current FBI/NSA proposal for mandatory backdoors in the Internet of Things.

Please see the following background reading:


Carl Hewitt is the creator (together with his students and other colleagues) of the Actor Model of computation.  The Actor Model and Actor programming languages influenced the development of the Scheme programming language and the π calculus, and inspired several other systems and programming languages. The Model is in widespread industrial use including eBay, Microsoft, and Twitter. For his doctoral thesis, he designed Planner, the first programming language based on pattern-invoked procedural plans. 

Professor Hewitt’s recent research centers on the area of  Inconsistency Robustness, i.e., system performance in the face of continual, pervasive inconsistencies (a shift from the previously dominant paradigms of inconsistency denial and inconsistency elimination, i.e., to sweep inconsistencies under the rug). ActorScript and the Actor Model on which it is based can play an important role in the implementation of more inconsistency-robust information systems. Professor Hewitt is an advocate in the emerging campaign against mandatory installation of backdoors in the Internet of Things.

Professor Hewitt is Board Chair of iRobust™, an international scientific society for the promotion of the field of Inconsistency Robustness. He is also Board Chair of Standard IoT™, an international standards organization for the Internet of Things, which is using the Actor Model to unify and generalize emerging standards for IoT. He has been a Visiting Professor at Stanford University and Keio University and is Emeritus in the EECS department at MIT.

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