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FlowTalk: Language Support for Long-Latency Operations in Embedded Devices
July/August 2011 (vol. 37 no. 4)
pp. 526-543
Alexandre Bergel, University of Chile, Santiago
William Harrison, Software Structure Group
Vinny Cahill, Lero and Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
Siobhán Clarke, Lero and Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
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.

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Index Terms:
Embedded systems, object-based programming.
Citation:
Alexandre Bergel, William Harrison, Vinny Cahill, Siobhán Clarke, "FlowTalk: Language Support for Long-Latency Operations in Embedded Devices," IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, vol. 37, no. 4, pp. 526-543, July-Aug. 2011, doi:10.1109/TSE.2010.66
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