A Hierarchical Coordination Language for Reliable Real-Time Tasks

Arkadeb Ghosal

Complex requirements, time-to-market pressure, and regulatory constraints have made the designing of embedded systems extremely challenging. This is evident by the increase in effort and expenditure for design of safety-driven real-time control-dominated applications like automotive and avionic controllers. Design processes are often challenged by lack of proper programming tools for specifying and verifying critical requirements (e.g., timing and reliability) of such applications. Platform based design, an approach for designing embedded systems, addresses the above concerns by separating requirement from architecture. The requirement specifies the intended behavior of an application while the architecture specifies the guarantees (e.g., execution speed, failure rate). An implementation, a mapping of the requirement on the architecture, is then analyzed for correctness. The orthogonalization of concerns makes the specification and analyses simpler. An effective use of such design methodology has been proposed in Logical Execution Time (LET) model of real-time tasks. The model separates the timing requirements (specified by release and termination instances of a task) from the architecture guarantees (specified by worst-case execution time of the task).

This dissertation proposes a coordination language, Hierarchical Timing Language (HTL), that captures the timing and reliability requirements of real-time applications. An implementation of the program on an architecture is then analyzed to check whether desired timing and reliability requirements are met or not. The core framework extends the LET model by accounting for reliability and refinement. The reliability model separates the reliability requirements of tasks from the reliability guarantees of the architecture. The requirement expresses the desired long-term reliability while the architecture provides a short-term reliability guarantee (e.g., failure rate for each iteration). The analysis checks if the short-term guarantee ensures the desired long-term reliability. The refinement model allows replacing a task by another task during program execution. Refinement preserves schedulability and reliability, i.e., if a refined task is schedulable and reliable for an implementation, then the refining task is also schedulable and reliable for the implementation. Refinement helps in concise specification without overloading analysis.

The work presents the formal model, the analyses (both with and without refinement), and a compiler for HTL programs. The compiler checks composition and refinement constraints, performs schedulability and reliability analyses, and generates code for implementation of an HTL program on a virtual machine. Three real-time controllers, one each from automatic control, automotive control and avionic control, are used to illustrate the steps in modeling and analyzing HTL programs.

Ph.D. thesis, University of California at Berkeley, February 2008, 210 pages.

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