This dissertation was presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School of The University of Texas at Austin in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering


Computational Process Networks: A Model and Framework for High-Throughput Signal Processing  


Gregory E. Allen, Ph.D.E.E.

The University of Texas at Austin, May 2011


Prof. Brian L. Evans


Dissertation - Defense Slides - Software


Many signal and image processing systems for high-throughput, high-performance applications require concurrent implementations in order to realize desired performance. Developing software for concurrent systems is widely acknowledged to be difficult, with common industry practice leaving the burden of preventing concurrency problems on the programmer.

The Kahn Process Network model provides the mathematically provable property of determinism of a program result regardless of the execution order of its processes, including concurrent execution. This model is also natural for describing streams of data samples in a signal processing system, where processes transform streams from one data type to another. However, a Kahn Process Network may require infinite memory to execute.

I present the dynamic distributed deadlock detection and resolution (D4R) algorithm, which permits execution of Process Networks in bounded memory if it is possible. It detects local deadlocks in a Process Network, determines whether the deadlock can be resolved and, if so, identifies the process that must take action to resolve the deadlock.

I propose the Computational Process Network (CPN) model which is based on the formalisms of Kahn's PN model, but with enhancements that are designed to make it efficiently implementable. These enhancements include multi-token transactions to reduce execution overhead, multi-channel queues for multi-dimensional synchronous data, zero-copy semantics, and consumer and producer firing thresholds for queues. Firing thresholds enable memoryless computation of sliding window algorithms, which are common in signal processing systems. I show that the Computational Process Network model preserves the formal properties of Process Networks, while reducing the operations required to implement sliding window algorithms on continuous streams of data.

I also present a high-throughput software framework that implements the Computational Process Network model using C++, and which maps naturally onto distributed targets. This framework uses POSIX threads, and can exploit parallelism in both multi-core and distributed systems.

Finally, I present case studies to exercise this framework and demonstrate its performance and utility. The final case study is a three-dimensional circular convolution sonar beamformer and replica correlator, which demonstrates the high throughput and scalability of a real-time signal processing algorithm using the CPN model and framework.


For more information contact: Gregory Allen <>