IMC - Implementing Mobile Calculi

IMC is a Java framework for implementing distributed applications possibly with code mobility. The name is due to the fact that originally this framework was built for helping implementing the run time system of mobile calculi implementation, i.e., calculi accessing remote resources and nodes, and, possibly, exchanging code, processes and mobile agents. Of course, if you don't need code mobility features you can simply ignore them and use IMC for building any distributed and network application.

IMC is Open Source and Free Software, under GPL.

NOTICE: IMC is targetted to programmers of distributed application, not to end users.

IMC is developed at Dipartimento di Sistemi e Informatica, Universita' di Firenze, Italy from the Concurrency and Mobility Group.

IMC uses generics, thus it requires Java 5.

IMC is still in development state, thus some parts are likely to change in future versions.


Many implementations of mobile code languages have been proposed, and very often the language used for implementation is Java because it provides many useful features for building network applications with mobile code. However, these Java mechanisms still require a big programming effort, and so they can be thought of as "low-level" mechanisms. Because of this, many existing Java-based distributed systems tend to re-implement from scratch many components that are typical and recurrent in distributed and mobile applications.

To support the implementation of languages for global computing, we have been working on IMC that can be used as a framework for the implementation of different distributed mobile systems. Such a framework aims at providing the necessary tools for implementing new language run-time systems directly derived from calculi for mobility. The basic idea and motivation of this framework is that the implementer of a new language would need concentrating on the parts that are really specific of his system, while relying on the framework for the recurrent standard mechanisms. The development of prototype implementations should then be quicker and the programmers should be relieved from dealing with low-level details. The proposed framework aims at providing all the required functionalities and abstractions for arbitrary components to communicate and move in a distributed setting.

IMC provides concrete implementations for the standard and most used functionalities that should fit most Java mobile framework requirements (e.g., Java byte-code mobility and standard network communication mechanisms). A user of IMC can customize parts of the framework by providing its own implementations for the interfaces used in the package. In this respect, the IMC framework can be straightforwardly used if no specific advanced feature is needed. The framework is however open to customizations if these are required by specific mobility systems. Customization of the framework can be achieved by taking advantage of design patterns that are used throughout the packages.

The framework was designed to achieve both transparency and adaptability. For instance, for code mobility, the framework provides all the basic functionalities for making code mobility transparent to the programmer: all issues related to code marshalling and code dispatch are handled automatically by the classes of the framework. Its components are designed to deal with object marshalling, code migration, and dynamic loading of code. The framework can also be adapted to deal with many network topologies (flat, hierarchical, peer-to-peer networks, etc.) and with message dispatching and forwarding. Furthermore, the implementer can build his own communication protocols by specializing the protocol base classes provided by the framework. Thus, the developer will only have to implement the parts that are relevant to the system he wants to build: typically, he will develop the communication protocol which best matches application-specific requirements. Connections and network topology are dealt with directly from within the framework. However, the developer may access the current state of his application with listeners to events that the classes of the framework generate.

The IMC framework originated within the project MIKADO (Mobile Calculi Based on Domains).

Here are some papers on IMC:

A Software Framework for Rapid Prototyping of Run-Time Systems for Mobile Calculi
Lorenzo Bettini, Rocco De Nicola, Daniele Falassi, Marc Lacoste, Luis Lopes, Licinio Oliveira, Herve Paulino, Vasco T. Vasconcelos.
Global Computing. IST/FET International Workshop, GC 2004, Revised Papers. C. Priami (Eds.). LNCS vol. 3267. Springer. 2004. abstract ps.gz bibtex

A Flexible and Modular Framework for Implementing Infrastructures for Global Computing
Lorenzo Bettini, Rocco De Nicola, Daniele Falassi, Marc Lacoste, Michele Loreti.
Proc. of 5th IFIP Int. Conf. on Distributed Applications and Interoperable Systems (DAIS). pp. 181--193. LNCS vol. 3543. Springer. 2005. abstract pdf bibtex

Implementing a distributed mobile calculus using the IMC framework
Lorenzo Bettini, Rocco De Nicola, Daniele Falassi, Michele Loreti.
Proc. of MTCOORD (2nd International Workshop on Methods and Tools for Coordinating Concurrent, Distributed and Mobile Systems). ENTCS. Elsevier. 2006. To appear. abstract pdf bibtex

The version of IMC available from here was completely re-written.

Download & Installation

IMC can be downloaded from the site:

Of couse, being an open source software, IMC comes with sources (although the archive contains also the precompiled binaries). In particular, the archive you download consists of the following (main) directories:

You can also access IMC's sources through git:

git clone git://

If you're an Eclipse user you might also import the project from git, or, if you downloaded the source archive you can import the project you find in the archive. In this case you can also run the junit tests from Eclipse (the test suite is called AllTests).


Apart from the above mentioned javadoc documentation, from, you can download the user guide (which contains many examples of tutorial nature).


IMC has been employed for developing a Java prototype implementation of a run-time system for the distributed Pi calculus, JDpi. Furthermore it is being used to re-engineer the current implementation of Klava, the run-time system for Klaim. Logo