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Research Proposal

High-Level Techniques for Distributed Telecommunications Software

ESPRC Research Project, GR/R 88137


Distributed systems have become dramatically more significant with the advent of improved wired and wireless network technologies. There has been sustained academic interest in high-level techniques for constructing distributed systems, aiming to reduce development time and increase reliability. Collaborating with Motorola, we aim to evaluate the high-level techniques in a realistic distributed telecommunications context. The language platforms for our investigation are two distributed functional languages: Erlang is a simple language with proven telecommunications track record, GdH is a sophisticated research language that can be adapted by the research team.

The evaluation covers specific high-level techniques: high-level distributed coordination, sophisticated type systems, correctness, and non-strictness. Because these techniques abrogate control of low-level distribution issues we also investigate whether they can still deliver the required functionality, including such issues as soft real-time capabilities, fault-tolerance, and implementation scalability. Finally the project initiates the transfer of distributed functional language technology into the UK telecommunications sector.

Aims and Objectives

The project aims to evaluate high-level programming techniques for advanced distributed telecommunications software.

To assess the costs and benefits of high-level distributed programming constructs for telecommunications software, and compare them with conventional technology. Driving factors are time to market and software quality, and the techniques we investigate are high level distributed coordination, ease of validation/verification, impact of sophisticated type systems and non-strictness.

To investigate whether high level programming paradigms can deliver telecommunications application functionality. Specific functionalities are foreign language interfaces, soft real-time capabilities, fault tolerance, resource reclamation, wireless LAN interfaces, implementation scalability and the scalability of the software development model.

To develop three medium-scale advanced telecommunications applications supplied by Motorola in two high-level functional languages: Erlang and GdH. The applications represent a range of telecommunications functionality and scale

Research Proposal

The research proposal details the research team, the background to the research, and the work plan.


  • Experiments with the Erlang Language for Distributed Telecommunication Applications,
    J.H. Nyström and P.W.Trinder, Heriot-Watt University, and D.J. King, Motorola,
    Motorola's 2003 Software, Systems, and Simulation Symposium (S3S), July 2003
  • Evaluating Distributed Functional Languages for Telecommunications Software,
    J.H. Nyström and P.W.Trinder, Heriot-Watt University, and D.J. King, Motorola,
    ACM SIGPLAN Erlang Workshop 2003 (PostScript, PDF)
  • Evaluating Erlang for Robust Telecoms Software,
    J.H. Nyström and P.W.Trinder, Heriot-Watt University, and D.J. King, Motorola,
    Motorola's 2004 Software, Systems, and Simulation Symposium (S3S), July 2004
  • A Port of Erlang to the Grid
    M.B. Xu
    Msc. Thesis, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland, 2004.
  • Are High-level Languages suitable for Robust Telecoms Software?,
    J.H. Nyström and P.W.Trinder, Heriot-Watt University, and D.J. King, Motorola,
    The 24th International Conference on Computer Safety, Reliability and Security (safeComp 2005), September 2005 (PostScript, PDF, LNCS 3688, Paper on Springer Online)
  • Grid Enabled Erlang
    P. Das
    Msc. Thesis, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland, 2005.
  • High-level Distribution for the Rapid Production of Robust Telecoms Softw are: comparing C++ and Erlang
    J.H. Nystrom P.W.Trinder, D.J. King
    to appear in Concurrency & Computation: Practice and Experience, Kluwer



High-Level Technique for Distributed Telecommunications Software
The project aims to evaluate distributed functional programming techniques for realistic telecommunications applications.
ESPRC GR/R 88137
Functional Distributed Interactive Systems
The primary aim of the project is to study the suitability of distributed lazy functional langauges for constructing real applications with small-scale distribution.
ESPRC GR/M 55633
Evaluating Functional Distribution
Evaluating two non-strict distributed functional languages, namely Eden, and GdH. People: Rita Loogen, Kevin Hammond.
4-year British Council/DAAD funded travel grant (Project No. 1097), with partners at Phillips-Universitaet Marburg, and St Andrews University.
Performance Evaluation of Parallel Functional Programs for Multiprocessor Computer Systems
The project aims to evaluate the performance of the Eden and GpH parallel functional programming languages, and to construct frameworks for reasoning about them. People: Ricardo Pena, Yolanda Ortega-Mallen, Kevin Hammond.
4-year British Council/Acciones Integradas travel grant (Project No. MDR 8472).


People currently working in this project:
Phil Trinder, Email:trinder@macs.hw.ac.uk, Senior Lecturer.
David King, Email:David.King@motorola.com, Senior Software Engineer, Motorola, Basingstoke.
Henry Nyström, Email:jann@macs.hw.ac.uk, Research Associate.
People associated with this project:
Robert Pointon, Email:rpointon@macs.hw.ac.uk, Research Associate.
Hans Wolfgang Loidl, Email:hwloidl@informatik.uni-muenchen.de, Research Associate, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München.
Contact email
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