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What Is Trace Theory?

Helen Akers
Helen Akers

Trace theory relates to how computer hardware and software processes commands simultaneously. It is sometimes referred to as concurrent computing and may be compared to the idea of parallel computing. The main idea behind concurrent computing is that several processes use the same resource and are dependent on each other. Central to trace theory is the idea that there are an infinite number of possible patterns and relationships that processes can form.

Most computer hardware and programming languages are designed around trace theory. Concurrent computing examines what is being processed and how the processing activity occurs. While simultaneous processes that use the same resources are usually independent of each other, they can also interact. The idea of interdependent processes makes up the core of concurrent computing and dependency graphs.

Woman doing a handstand with a computer
Woman doing a handstand with a computer

Even though each computing process may happen separately, dependency graphs show which processes might be using the same hardware or software. In these graphs and calculations, the dependent factor might be labeled with the letter "C" or "D." Dependency graphs illustrate that if two processes use a certain factor, then other processes that contain identical identifiers will also be dependent on the same factor.

Since trace theory attempts to explain how various computing processes and commands occur, the dependency graphs not only identify what resources are being used, but the paths and routes that the processes are taking. It is important to take into consideration that the theory states that there are only a certain number of dependencies or relationships that can occur with one factor. While the number of patterns in concurrent computation is infinite, only a select number of processes will form the same dependency or use the same resource.

Trace theory illustrates that parallel processes are mathematically equal to each other. It is similar to the idea of taking two parallel lines, drawing an intersecting line through them, and measuring the angles on the opposite side of each intersecting point. Even though the parallel lines themselves do not intersect, they are identical to each other and have the same value. In the case of concurrent computation, the intersecting line would be equivalent to a dependency.

The language used to represent the various processes that use the same dependencies is binary. For example, one process might be represented by the letters "AC," while a second process is represented by the letters "AB." The binary value of "0" could be assigned to process "AC" and the binary value of 1 would be assigned to the process labeled "AB."

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