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A Comparative Study of the Usability of Two Object-oriented Concurrent Programming Languages

By Sebastian Nanz, Faraz Torshizi, Michela Pedroni and Bertrand Meyer

Abstract

Concurrency has been rapidly gaining importance in general-purpose computing, caused by the recent turn towards multicore processing architectures. As a result, an increasing number of developers have to learn to write concurrent programs, a task that is known to be hard even for the expert. Language designers are therefore working on languages that promise to make concurrent programming “easier ” than using traditional thread libraries. However, the claim that a new language is more usable than another cannot be supported by purely theoretical considerations, but calls for empirical studies. In this paper, we present the design of a study to compare concurrent programming languages with respect to comprehending and debugging existing programs and writing correct new programs. A critical challenge for such a study is avoiding the bias that might be introduced during the training phase and when interpreting participants ’ solutions. We address these issues by the use of self-study material and an evaluation scheme that exposes any subjective decisions of the corrector, or eliminates them altogether. We apply our design to a comparison of two object-oriented languages for concurrency, multithreaded Java and SCOOP (Simple Concurrent Object-Oriented Programming), in an academic setting. We obtain results in favor of SCOOP even though the study participants had previous training in Java Threads. 1 ar X i

Topics: Contents
Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:CiteSeerX.psu:10.1.1.755.4021
Provided by: CiteSeerX
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