ISIS Director Sztipanovits delivers Nyquist Distinguished Lecture at Yale

ISIS Director Janos Sztipanovits delivered the Harry T. Nyquist Distinguished Lecture at Yale University Oct. 23, 2009. The title of his lecture was Convergence: Model-Based Software, Systems and Control Engineering.

Sztipanovits is the E. Bronson Ingram Distinguished Professor of Engineering and a professor of electrical engineering and computer science.

Harry Nyquist was a Swedish-born American electrical engineer who, upon graduation from Yale in 1917 with a doctorate in physics, went to work for AT&T at a researcher and inventor, where he remained until he retired in 1954. His practical contributions to the computer science industry include improvements to long-distance telephone circuits and picture transmission systems. His theoretical accomplishments in telecommunications laid the groundwork for T1 digital circuitry.

Lecture Abstract:

The integration of physical systems and processes with networked computing has led to the emergence of a new generation of engineered systems: Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS). Such systems use computations and communication deeply embedded in and interacting with physical processes to add new capabilities to physical systems. These cyber-physical systems range from miniscule (pacemakers) to large-scale (the national power-grid). Because computer-augmented devices are everywhere, they are a huge source of economic leverage.

The past 15 years provided ample evidence that the separation of information science and physical science has created a divergence in scientific foundations and technologies that has become strongly limiting to progress in the design of CPS. For example, dominant abstractions in programming languages typically avoid the explicit representation of time and other aspects of physicality, lumping together all the related physical design considerations in the category of “non-functional” requirements (such as timing, power and reliability).

On the physical side, although engineering increasingly relies on computer based implementations, systems science has developed and evolved abstractions that largely neglect salient properties of computing and communication platforms (such as scheduling, resource management, network delays) and considers those as secondary implementation issues. The resulting barrier between systems and computer science has kept the research communities apart – splitting education into isolated disciplines and resulting in compartmentalized design flows that ultimately lead to major difficulties and failures as complexity increases.

This talk focuses on the emerging technology of model-based engineering that has the potential to make real change here. It offers opportunity for designing and relating abstraction layers across design concerns using domain specific modeling languages, allows the development of semantic foundations for composing heterogeneous models and modeling languages and provides foundation and tools for relating models through transformations. Model-based software, systems and control engineering creates opportunities for a new convergence in foundations – similarly to what already happened in applications.