Actor Model

What Does Actor Model Mean?

The actor model is a computer science concept that uses “actors” as the fundamental agents of computing. Actors take input, send output and perform functions. They can also create other actors. This type of model was involved in early packet switching, and, as a semantic model, it has helped to evolve different kinds of software programs.


Techopedia Explains Actor Model

An “actor” is the fundamental idea in the actor model. Experts refer to an actor as a computational entity, but a more detailed explanation would be that an actor, like an object, is simply an instance of a particular class. This shows a similarity between the actor model and the object-oriented model.

In terms of its popular use, the actor model has a lot of similarities to the object-oriented model that is much more prevalent in many areas of computer science. Whereas an actor or a virtual agent implies more proactive functions, an object is endowed with properties and values that allow it to function in particular ways. This may be what led to the object-oriented model to thrive and kept the actor model from being dominant in the computer science field. Other experts point out that the actor model lacks a particular system for inheritance or hierarchy, and that problems with things like asynchronous message passing can affect systems negatively.


Related Terms

Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.