Designing a Unified Interface for Execution

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If you were to ask a C++ developer the question "what is execution?" you may get a different answer depending on who you asked. This is because execution means something different to the various users of C++; in areas such as multi-core parallelism, heterogeneity, distributed systems and networking. There are many commonalities that can be drawn between these different use cases, however, each too has their own distinct requirements. Now imagine if C++ could bring together all of these and form a single unified interface for execution, one which would allow a distinct separation of computations from their method of execution. This is the challenge which a C++ committee subgroup has undertaken. A recent joint effort by a group of interested parties within the C++ committee has been working on a solution which will bring together the requirements of all of these use cases into a single unified interface for execution. This unified interface will provide a generalised way of describing execution that will serve as an abstraction underneath common C++ control structures such as async, task blocks and parallel STL, and above a wide range of resources capable of execution. This talk takes a subjective look at the story so far; the original papers that paved the way to where we are now, the underlying design philosophy that will come to represent execution in C++, and the current state of the proposal in progress. It will also present the various use cases that influenced the proposal, how their requirements helped shape the design and what challenges are still to be overcome.



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