Programming language abstractions for mobile code

Scala is a general-purpose programming language developed at EPFL. It combines the most important concepts found in object-oriented and functional languages. Scala is a statically typed language; in particular it features an advanced type system and supports local type inference. Furthermore it integrates well with the Java and .net platforms: their libraries are accessible without glue code and the Scala compiler generates code for both execution environments. The Scala programming language has several features that make it desirable as a language for distributed application programming. In particular, it supports first-class functions which are useful in relation with the notions of distributed scope and code mobility. In that context, the missing support for run-time types is one important drawback of the Java run-time environment as a target platform. This thesis focuses on the realisation of a new concept combining essential notions from the functional and distributed programming and implying the extension of the notion of lexical scoping to the distributed context. In short, we claim that the notion of lambda abstraction provides an elegant way for dealing with the dynamic rebinding of local references in a distributed execution environment. The key ideas exposed in this research work have been implemented in our Scala compiler. This helped us to evaluate the used techniques, in particular their impact on the reliability and the performance of distributed programs. So far, most research works related to the present subject have focused on functional programming languages, in particular on the ML language family.

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