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FlowTalk: Language Support for Long-Latency Operations in Embedded Devices

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4 Author(s)
Alexandre Bergel ; Comput. Sci. Dept. (DCC), Univ. of Chile, Santiago, Chile ; William Harrison ; Vinny Cahill ; Siobhan Clarke

Wireless sensor networks necessitate a programming model different from those used to develop desktop applications. Typically, resources in terms of power and memory are constrained. C is the most common programming language used to develop applications on very small embedded sensor devices. We claim that C does not provide efficient mechanisms to address the implicit asynchronous nature of sensor sampling. C applications for these devices suffer from a disruption in their control flow. In this paper, we present FlowTalk, a new object-oriented programming language aimed at making software development for wireless embedded sensor devices easier. FlowTalk is an object-oriented programming language in which dynamicity (e.g., object creation) has been traded for a reduction in memory consumption. The event model that traditionally comes from using sensors is adapted in FlowTalk with controlled disruption, a light-weight continuation mechanism. The essence of our model is to turn asynchronous long-latency operations into synchronous and blocking method calls. FlowTalk is built for TinyOS and can be used to develop applications that can fit in 4 KB of memory for a large number of wireless sensor devices.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering  (Volume:37 ,  Issue: 4 )