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Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Cyber Physical Systems at ISIS

The Institute for Software Integrated Systems conducts basic and applied research in the areas of  cyber physical systems and information science and engineering. Applications of ISIS technology span a wide range of software intensive systems, from small, embedded devices through real-time distributed systems to globally deployed complex systems.

Institute for Software Integrated Systems

Janos Sztipanovits Janos Sztipanovits

E. Bronson Ingram Distinguished Professor of Engineering
Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Director of Institute for Software Integrated Systems

Systems today—everything from pacemakers to remotely piloted aircraft to the power grid—are complex and the processes used to build the software platforms that make them work are surprisingly creative. More importantly, these processes leverage decades of R&D on innovative tools and methods—the kind of innovative software design work going on at ISIS every day to ensure software and hardware integrate together successfully.

A good example of ISIS's impact on safety-critical system development is the recently completed Model-Based Design of High Confidence Systems project led by Janos Sztipanovits. This Air Force Office of Scientific Research funded project generated powerful model-integrated computing techniques and tools for software platforms that underlie many complex cyber-physical systems used by humans. Cyber-physical systems have become so complicated that it's neither practical nor affordable to build them without first testing the joint behavior of the physical and computational system by using precise-scale computer models.

ISISMethods and tools created for the Model-Based Design of High Confidence Systems project became the building blocks for the next generation of ISIS model-integrated computing efforts, such as the META portion of the DARPA Adaptive Vehicle Make program that aims to radically alter the way military vehicles are built or the Science of Integration of Cyber-Physical Systems project funded by the National Science Foundation.

With Sztipanovits at the helm, the institute is at the forefront of the cyber-physical system revolution due to the strong focus on the foundations of model-based design and model-integrated computing. These foundations include meta-programmable design automation tools that enable the use of domain-specific abstractions in design flows and rigorous semantic foundations for modeling and model analysis.

Gabor Karsai Gabor Karsai

Professor of Electrical Engineering, Computer Science and Computer Engineering
Associate Director of Institute for Software Integrated Systems

Gabor Karsai is leading a team of researchers to create a sophisticated software platform: a novel operating system that is distributed (it runs software apps dispersed on networked computers), real-time (it satisfies stringent timing requirements) and embedded (it interacts with a physical system such as a vehicle). One potential application for such a platform can be found with networked vehicles such as driverless cars traveling as a platoon, unmanned aerial vehicles that fly in formation or a fractionated spacecraft, which is a cluster of independent, but wirelessly connected, small satellites that work together to perform coordinated missions.

ISISThis research has been supported by DARPA 's System F6 program, a cooperative effort of government, academic and industry entities aimed at building novel satellite architecture. There are several challenges that such a software system has to solve. The system has to be safe and reliable, operate securely under fault conditions, be able to share resources (sensors, processors and networks), satisfy stringent timing requirements and operate under the constraints on size, power, weight, computational and communication resources. Most importantly, software applications for it  should be easy to construct, deploy and manage.

Douglas Schmidt Douglas Schmidt

Professor of Computer Science and Computer Engineering
Associate Chair of Computer Science and Engineering

A consortium of industry, academic and government entities known as the Future Airborne Capabilities Environment (FACE) is helping to define a common operating platform environment for mission- and safety-critical avionics systems. This operating platform is comprised of a set of new standards, recommendations, reference implementations and  conformance tools to help reduce the cost of software acquisition for DoD avionics systems.

Schmidt works with a team of researchers at ISIS who are developing a reference implementation and associated model-integrated computing software toolkit as part of FACE. This software will be available in open-source form to ISISanyone building avionics systems for the DoD. Adoption of FACE will lower total ownership costs, improve performance, speed innovations and leverage government and defense contractor workforces more effectively than traditional proprietary approaches to avionics software. Schmidt has more than 20 years of experience leading the development of ACE, TAO , CIAO and CoSMIC, which are widely used, open-source middleware frameworks and model-integrated computing tools that implement patterns and product-line architectures for common operating platform environments, such as FACE. The middleware platforms and modeling tools developed by Schmidt and his colleagues at ISIS  constitute some of the most successful examples of software R&D ever transitioned from research to industry.

Akos Ledeczi Akos Ledeczi

Associate Professor of Computer Engineering

Detecting and accurately locating snipers has been an elusive goal of the armed forces and law enforcement agencies for many years. Prior counter-sniper efforts at ISIS and elsewhere focused on special-purpose hardware and software that displayed the location of enemy shooters. Akos Ledeczi and ISIS engineers recently invented a next-generation counter-sniper mobile app for commodity Android smartphones that has reached the final testing phase.

Called the Shooter Localization with Mobile Phones, this mobile app under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency collects sound waves through microphones mounted on soldiers' headsets. These measurements are then ISISused to determine precise enemy shooter location data that are displayed on the soldiers' phones via Google Maps.  The smartphones are networked together so data can be fused from multiple units, filtering out echoes and other unrelated sounds. Location data is then processed and displayed directly on the phones.

The wireless sensor network group at ISIS is also developing a novel, software-defined radio under National Science  Foundation (NSF) funding that allows researchers to experiment with novel wireless communication protocols that  consume considerably less power than conventional radios. In addition, the group is working on novel GPS-based  localization technology funded by NSF and a Google Research Award.

Aniruddha Gokhale Aniruddha (Andy) Gokhale

Associate Professor of Computer Science

Distributed real-time and embedded (DRE) systems middleware is computer software that integrates diverse programming languages, operating systems, networks and hardware, and it serves as an important building block for  many projects at ISIS.

Andy Gokhale and Douglas Schmidt have led the development of theISIS influential middleware packages ACE (ADAPTIVE  Communications Environment) and TAO (The ACE ORB), which are popular open-source, pattern-oriented  frameworks. Their recent research led to the development of component abstractions and their deployment and configuration for DRE systems. These efforts leverage their prior work on ACE/TAO and have resulted in the open  source Component-Integrated ACE ORB (CIAO), and Deployment and Configuration Engine (DAnCE) middleware.  Complementing their middleware efforts, they have developed model-driven engineering (MDE) techniques to deal with  number of inherent and accidental complexities stemming from the use of the middleware technologies, which  has resulted in an open source tool called Component Synthesis using Model Integrated Computing.

Gokhale's ongoing projects focus on developing solutions to support cyber-physical systems in cloud computing  environments. Topics of interest to him in this area include algorithms for real-time versus reliability tradeoffs in  virtualized environments, power versus performance tradeoffs for multicore servers, optimal deployment of CPS  application functionality and security solutions, all of which are encoded as MDE tools and middleware that support  CPS applications in mobile, resource-constrained cloud environments.

Xenofon Koutsoukos Xenofon Koutsoukos

Professor of Computer Science

Among the hardest problems facing researchers and engineers are those associated with producing robust and secure integration of physical and computational processes for cyber-physical systems, which deliver advanced capabilities in airplanes, cars, spacecraft, smartphones and even smart power grids. To address the challenges of cyber-physical system validation and verification, Xenofon Koutsoukos and Janos Sztipanovits are leading the Science of Integration for Cyber-Physical Systems, funded by the National Science Foundation.

This project is creating model-integrated computing techniques, which enable the design, analysis and integration of ISIScomplex cyber-physical systems using automated tools. These tools will enable incremental validation and verification of key system properties, such as functional correctness, safety and stability, so these systems need not be built and retested from scratch to accommodate every change. Koutsoukos is also focusing on how to combine disparate  model-integrated computing tools into an open tool integration framework that cyber-physical system practitioners and engineers can apply to develop and sustain complex systems more rapidly and reliably throughout their lifecycles.  These integrated tools are essential to aid in building and assuring future safety and mission-critical cyber-physical applications, such as autonomous air and ground vehicles.

Gautam Biswas Gautam Biswas

Professor of Computer Science

Working closely with Honeywell engineers, ISIS researchers are mining regional airline flight and maintenance data to  build the Vehicle Integrated Prognostic Reasoner (VIPR), which uses knowledge derived from advanced data mining and machine learning techniques to diagnose and detect potential problems in an airplane before an accident or emergency landing. Gautam Biswas leads the NASA-funded VIPR project, which aims to find evolving faults in aircraft systems, such as the engine and the avionics system, as well as anomalies that occur due to pilot actions and unusual environmental conditions, such as inclement weather or the orientation of a runway in a particular airport.

Although plane crashes are rare, the growing complexity of aircraft systems has increased the chances for unexpected occurrences; hence the need to combine machine-driven exploration with human expertise to understand these situations. VIPR explores and analyzes large amounts (terabytes) of flight data to derive new  and useful knowledge. ISISHuman experts then use that knowledge to improve diagnostic monitors and reasoning systems available on today's aircrafts.

Beyond conventional machine learning, Biswas, together with Honeywell experts, has discovered new monitors and more accurate diagnostic knowledge to detect faults in fuel supply lines, the fuel injection systems and the engines.  Their results show that faults can be detected more quickly and accurately, allowing the initiation of maintenance  actions in a timely manner to avoid compromising aircraft safety.


ISIS Research and Affiliated Faculty

Ted Bapty
Research Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering

Tihamer Levendovsky
Research Assistant Professor of Computer Science

Sandeep Neema
Research Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering

William Robinson
Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and
Computer Engineering

Jules White
Assistant Professor of Computer Science