Mark S. Miller's PhD thesis on Robust Composition: Towards a Unified Approach to Access Control and Concurrency Control is now online.
When separately written programs are composed so that they may cooperate, they may instead destructively interfere in unanticipated ways. These hazards limit the scale and functionality of the software systems we can successfully compose. This dissertation presents a framework for enabling those interactions between components needed for the cooperation we intend, while minimizing the hazards of destructive interference.
Great progress on the composition problem has been made within the object paradigm, chiefly in the context of sequential, single-machine programming among benign components. We show how to extend this success to support robust composition of concurrent and potentially malicious components distributed over potentially malicious machines. We present E, a distributed, persistent, secure programming language, and CapDesk, a virus-safe desktop built in E, as embodiments of the techniques we explain.
E rates as a (very) important language for anyone interested in ideas of messaging, distribution and security. The nice thing about a thesis (such as this one and Joe Armstrong's) is that it gives a nice historical account of the related work and influences.