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COMP31212: Concurrency and Process Algebra (2010-2011)

This is an archived syllabus from 2010-2011

Concurrency and Process Algebra
Level: 3
Credit rating: 10
Pre-requisites: COMP10020 or equivalent (e.g. CS1021 COMP10021 or MATH10111 or MATH10131 or MATH10212 or MATH10232 or MATH10662 or MATH10672)
Co-requisites: No Co-requisites
Duration: 11 weeks
Lectures: 22, including examples classes and optional lab exercises
Lecturers: Howard Barringer
Course lecturer: Howard Barringer

Additional staff: view all staff
Sem 2 Lecture 1.4 Wed 10:00 - 11:00 -
Sem 2 Lecture 1.4 Thu 13:00 - 14:00 -
Assessment Breakdown
Exam: 100%
Coursework: 0%
Lab: 0%

Themes to which this unit belongs
  • Rigorous Development


This course will provide a systematic treatment of concepts and issues in concurrency. The subject will be introduced via a small process algebra language, FSP, for specifying the concurrent behaviour of finite state processes. The Java language has built-in concurrency constructs and will be used to illustrate implementations of example specifications. Also the FSP language comes with software tools for animation and verification and these will be used in examples.

A wide variety of common concurrency problems will be investigated. Some of the underlying theory of the process algebra FSP and related algebras such as Milner's CCS and Hoare's CSP will be studied.

The course aims to:
Provide students with an understanding of concurrent systems, in particular how to model them using the process algebra FSP and how to implement them using Java.
Study techniques for the analysis of concurrent systems.
Introduce, via a set of case-studies, typical methods for solving concurrency problems.
Allow students to use a suite of tools for analysing FSP systems.

Programme outcomeUnit learning outcomesAssessment
A1 D6Have a knowledge and understanding, both practical and theoretical, of the FSP Process Algebra.
  • Examination
Have a knowledge and understanding of the difficulties involved in designing and implementing concurrent systems, and the limitations of the FSP modelling approach.
  • Examination
A2Have a knowledge and understanding of the behaviour of concurrent Java programs.
  • Examination
A5 B3Have a knowledge and understanding of solutions to a range of concurrency problems and be able to evaluate the effectiveness of these.
  • Examination
B1Be able to construct models for concurrent systems using FSP.
  • Examination
B1Be able to reason about FSP systems, including analysis of their behaviour, properties and equivalencies.
  • Examination
Understand how to use Java concurrency primitives.
  • Examination
C5Be able to translate FSP models to Java implementations for small problems.
  • Examination



Problems and challenges in concurrency (1 lecture).

Modelling processes and concurrency using FSP

Communicating processes, labelled transition systems (2 lectures).

Concurrency in Java

Threads, constructs, behaviour, interacting multiple threads (3 lectures).

From specification to implementation

Translating FSP to Java (1 lecture).


Semantics and equivalence (3 lectures).

Mutual exclusion, monitors, semaphores (3 lectures)


Deadlock, safety, liveness, fairness (4 lectures).


Readers/writers, message-passing, termination (4 lectures).

Extending the model

Other process algebras (CSP, CSS) (1 lecture).

Exercises/revision (2 lectures)

Reading List

Title: Concurrency: state models and Java programs (2nd edition)
Author: Magee, Jeff and Jeff Kramer
ISBN: 9780470093559
Publisher: Wiley
Edition: 2nd
Year: 2006