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  1. Programmable networks support a wide variety of applications, including access control, routing, monitoring, caching, and synchronization. As demand for applications grows, so does resource contention within the switch data plane. Cramming applications onto a switch is a challenging task that often results in non-modular programming, frustrating “trial and error” compile-debug cycles, and suboptimal use of resources. In this paper, we present P4All, an extension of P4 that allows programmers to define elastic data structures that stretch automatically to make optimal use of available switch resources. These data structures are defined using symbolic primitives (that parameterize the size and shape of the structure) and objective functions (that quantify the value gained or lost as that shape changes). A top-level optimization function specifies how to share resources amongst data structures or applications. We demonstrate the inherent modularity and effectiveness of our design by building a range of reusable elastic data structures including hash tables, Bloom filters, sketches, and key-value stores, and using those structures within larger applications. We show how to implement the P4All compiler using a combination of dependency analysis, loop unrolling, linear and non-linear constraint generation, and constraint solving. We evaluate the compiler’s performance, showing that a range of elastic programs can be compiled to P4 in few minutes at most, but usually less. 
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  2. P4 is a domain-specific language for programming and specifying packet-processing systems. It is based on an elegant design with high-level abstractions like parsers and match-action pipelines that can be compiled to efficient implementations in software or hardware. Unfortunately, like many industrial languages, P4 has developed without a formal foundation. The P4 Language Specification is a 160-page document with a mixture of informal prose, graphical diagrams, and pseudocode, leaving many aspects of the language semantics up to individual compilation targets. The P4 reference implementation is a complex system, running to over 40KLoC of C++ code, with support for only a few targets. Clearly neither of these artifacts is suitable for formal reasoning about P4 in general. This paper presents a new framework, called Petr4, that puts P4 on a solid foundation. Petr4 consists of a clean-slate definitional interpreter and a core calculus that models a fragment of P4. Petr4 is not tied to any particular target: the interpreter is parameterized over an interface that collects features delegated to targets in one place, while the core calculus overapproximates target-specific behaviors using non-determinism. We have validated the interpreter against a suite of over 750 tests from the P4 reference implementation, exercising our target interface with tests for different targets. We validated the core calculus with a proof of type-preserving termination. While developing Petr4, we reported dozens of bugs in the language specification and the reference implementation, many of which have been fixed. 
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  3. null (Ed.)