Skip to main content

Concurrent Programming:  2016-2017



Schedule S1(CS&P)Computer Science and Philosophy

Part A CoreComputer Science

Part AMathematics and Computer Science

Schedule AMSc in Computer Science



Many challenges arise during the design and implementation of concurrent and distributed programs. The aim of this course is to understand those challenges, and to see techniques for tackling them. The main paradigm to be considered is message passing concurrency, where independent processes, with private variables, interact by passing messages.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course students are expected to understand:
  • The conceptual foundations of concurrent programming, and
  • A variety of effective ways of structuring concurrent and distributed programs.


This course combines well with the Concurrency course: Concurrent Programming helps provide motivation for Concurrency, while Concurrency helps to provide formal underpinnings for this course.  This course will assume some familiarity with CSP; students who are not taking the Concurrency course (or have not taken such a course previously) should read at least the first two chapters of that course's textbook.

Students should also have a basic understanding of Object Oriented Programming (objects, classes, interfaces, inheritance, abstract classes, polymorphism), e.g. as taught in the Michaelmas Term OOP course or the first year Imperative Programming 2 course.

The course will have a number of practicals, to allow students to gain experience with concurrent programming. These practicals will use Scala; background reading on the language will be suggested.


A detailed synopsis summarising the running order and content of lectures to be given in HT 2015-16 appears in the Lectures section of the course materials site.


Reasons for concurrency; processes, threads; safety and liveness. Message passing concurrency; deadlock. Clients and servers. Interacting peers.  Synchronous parallel computation.  Patterns of concurrent programming: data parallel; bag of tasks; recursive parallel; task parallel.  Low-level concurrency controls: monitors; semaphores.


Reading list


  • Alternative: Principle of Concurrent and Distributed Programming, M. Ben-Ari, Prentice Hall, 1990.
  • Alternative background on Scala: Programming in Scala, Martin Odersky, Lex Spoon, Bill Venners, artima, 2008.