Compositionality in Deterministic Real-Time Embedded Systems

Slobodan Matic

Many computing applications, especially those in safety-critical embedded systems, require highly predictable timing properties. However, time is often not present in the prevailing computing and networking abstractions. In fact, most advances in computer architecture, software, and networking favor average-case performance over timing predictability. This thesis studies several methods for the design of concurrent and/or distributed embedded systems with precise timing guarantees. The focus is on flexible and compositional methods for programming and verification of the timing properties. The presented methods together with related formalisms cover two levels of design:

Programming language/model level. We propose a distributed variant of Giotto, a coordination programming language with an explicit temporal semantics --the logical execution time (LET) semantics. The LET of a task is an interval of time that specifies the time instants at which task inputs and outputs become available (task release and termination instants). The LET of a task is always non-zero. This allows us to communicate values across the network without changing the timing information of the task, and without introducing nondeterminism. We show how this methodology supports distributed code generation for distributed real-time systems. The method gives up some performance in favor of composability and predictability. We characterize the tradeoff by comparing the LET semantics with the semantics used in Simulink.

Abstract task graph level. We study interface-based design and verification of applications represented with task graphs. We consider task sequence graphs with general event models, and cyclic graphs with periodic event models with jitter and phase. Here an interface of a component exposes time and resource constraints of the component. Together with interfaces we formally define interface composition operations and the refinement relation. For efficient and flexible composability checking two properties are important: incremental design and independent refinement. According to the incremental design property the composition of interfaces can be performed in any order, even if interfaces for some components are not known. The refinement relation is defined such that in a design we can always substitute a refined interface for an abstract one. We show that the framework supports independent refinement, i.e., the refinement relation is preserved under composition operations.

Ph.D. thesis, University of California at Berkeley, February 2008, 148 pages.

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