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Communications of the ACM

Communications of the ACM

Decomposability, instabilities, and saturation in multiprogramming systems


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A step-by-step approach to model the dynamic behavior and evaluate the performance of computing systems is proposed. It is based on a technique of variable aggregation and the concept of nearly decomposable systems, both borrowed from Econometrics. This approach is taken in order to identify in multiprogramming paging systems (i) unstable regimes of operations and (ii) critical computing loads which bring the system into states of saturation. This analysis leads to a more complete definition of the circumstances in which “thrashing” can set in.

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