Saarland University
Computer Science
Programming Systems
Communicating Systems

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Theory of Communicating Systems

Seminar, 7/8/9 Credit Points

Summer term 2007

Prof. Gert Smolka, Dr. Jan Schwinghammer, Mark Kaminski
Programming Systems Lab, Department of Computer Science, Saarland University

Traditionally, computation is viewed as a transformational process that computes output data from input data. In the past decades this view has been complemented by the similarly fundamental role that communication and interaction play in computing: concurrently running programs, perhaps distributed on many computers across a network, are often most naturally described and reasoned about in terms of their communication behaviour. Even for sequential programs, complex behaviour may be understood in terms of interactive "experiments".

In this seminar we will see how the essence of communicating processes is idealized in a small formal system, the pi-calculus. We will learn how a very basic notion of communication can be used to model examples from various application domains as communicating systems, including mobile phone protocols, finite state machines, and programming languages. We will develop the theory of the pi-calculus, in particular proof techniques for behavioural equivalences, and use this to reason about communicating systems.

The seminar will be based on the book Communicating and Mobile Systems: the Pi-Calculus by Robin Milner. We will also read some original research articles about more advanced aspects of the pi-calculus and related calculi.


The seminar will be split into two parts:


There are no formal requirements for participation. Some of the ideas introduced in this seminar require a certain mathematical maturity, and successful participation in a core course in theoretical computer science such as "Semantics" or "Introduction to Computational Logic" may be helpful.

Assessment and work load

To obtain the credit points assigned to this course, you have to

Expect to work one full day per week for this seminar.


The initial meeting took place on Monday, 23.04.2007, and registration for the seminar is now closed. Guests are always welcome during the reading group and talks; simply send an email.

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