Tinkertoy Transactions

Authors: Nicholas Haines, Darrell Kindred, J. Gregory Morrisett, Scott M. Nettles, and Jeannette M. Wing

Appears as CMU-CS-93-202, December 1993.

The full text of this paper is here (in PostScript).


We describe the design of a transaction facility for a language that supports higher-order functions. We factor transactions into four separable features: persistence, undoability, locking, and threads. Then, relying on function composition, we show how we can put them together again. Our "Tinkertoy" approach towards building transactions enables us to construct a model of concurrent, nested, multi-threaded transactions, as well as other non-traditional models where not all features of transactions are present. Key to our approach is the use of higher-order functions to make transactions first-class. Not only do we get clean composability of transactional features, but also we avoid the need to introduce special control and block-structured constructs as done in more traditional transactional systems. We implemented our design in Standard ML of New Jersey.
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