Why Events Are A Bad Idea

According to the paper, ‘Why Events Are A Bad Idea (for high-concurrency servers), R. Behren, J. Condit and E. Brewer, Proceedings HotOS IX, Kauai, Hawaii, May 2003, pp. 19-24.’ As we know, thread versus message passing(event-based) programming has been debating in term of which is the best in term of performance lately, and many people believe that the event-based programming is much better in many ways than thread programming. In the paper, the main motivation of the authors is to show that thread programming is better than event-based programming in highly concurrent applications environment. They have shown us that thread could perform about the same as event-based in many criticize cases and it could have done better if we have fixed the complier. In other hand, they have concluded that thread will outperform event-based programming by judging from their analysis from the simulation they built. For this review, I will explain the authors main contribution, theirs deficiency. Lastly, I will rate the significance of the paper based on my personal opinion.

According to the paper, the authors has shown us the different between events and threads in term of their responsibilities such that events use event handlers and send /wait for messages, while threads use the function forks and so on. They also describe the problem with threads which has been criticism from other who think that event-base does better, such as performance, control flow, synchronization, state management and scheduling. They proved that these problems caused by the implementation of the programmers.

To make us believe that thread could perform better than event-based, they points of the two important properties of why thread could do better. For example, in modern servers, the requests from the client are independent, and the code which handles the request is sequential. So, they came up with the experimental by modify the compilers and integrate the complier and runtime system. Moreover, they ran the simulation and analyze the results such that event-based requires too many contexts switches and use too much heap due to the fact that its execution is so dynamically. Therefore, they conclude that the thread avoids this kind of problem and could give us a better in execution time.

In my opinion, I think the deficiency is that they haven’t done enough experiments with other cases such as they could test on other operating systems, or by using other benchmark suits to test on various inputs before they conclude that the simple thread programming perform better than the event-based one. However, thread versus message passing is an interesting topic, but in term of practicing in real world applications, it would cost so much time and afford to modify or integrate the complier and runtime like they mentions in the paper. Finally, what if their future results show a big advantages of thread and huge different in term of performance between them, but in reality many programmers still don’t quite understand how the thread really work, so are we going to achieve the utilization of the computer resource we have? I would rate the significance of this paper 3/5 because of the lack of evidences in term of real-application and the lack of references from others research which support the author’s arguments.

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