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WHO IS ISIS AND WHAT DO WE DO?

We work on the science and engineering of software-reliant systems that are all around us—in vehicles, hospitals, design shops, space systems, and factories—to name just a few. There is an enormous variety of software and the same is true for our work. With more than 120 faculty, staff, and students, as well as over 60 active projects, it's hard to report everything we do. Our goal, therefore, is to provide a sampling that showcases the impact we are making as a prominent leader in driving and shaping the enormous effect of and changes in software-reliant systems developed and encountered by humans.

At ISIS, we focus on software-reliant systems that are networked, computational, and physical. At the core of our work are systems science and engineering foundations, such as the fundamentals of composition in heterogeneous systems, tools for agile software and systems engineering, assured system integration, model-integrated computing, quality-of-service (QoS)-enabled networking, and middle-ware and virtualization. In addition to advancing the frontiers of science and engineering, our research has profound impacts on many domains, ranging from health care to education to transportation, defense, cyber-security, and the environment.

As a leader at the intersection of systems science, computer science, and engineering for over a decade, ISIS is the primary center for multiple, large, long-term projects of national significance. Some projects have applications in mission-critical and nationally strategic areas, such as advanced manufacturing; airline safety; cyber-security; intelligent transportation; and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Most projects build on our prior results in model-integrated computing, distributed real-time and embedded middleware, network resource management, and software patterns. Nearly all projects are highly technical—many with deep theoretic foundational issues—and have far-reaching implications that are not yet fully realized.

Many of our projects are at the cutting edge of software-reliant systems: secure and privacy-preserving health care systems, revolutionary system design tools for vehicles, and distributed operating systems software for satellite clusters. What is clear is that the research and transition activities being conducted at ISIS will set the future course for science and technology in the United States, while providing mechanisms to protect our security and privacy.

Our research directions and impact build upon work that began more than 25 years ago, based on the foundations and applications of model-based design in software and systems. This ongoing work has become a critical component of U.S. competitiveness as progress in modern science, engineering, and product development is increasingly driven by the application of advanced information technology (IT) in support of software-reliant systems. Distributed real-time and embedded systems, cyber-security, health IT, cloud computing, autonomous systems, and manufacturing technology are some of the many areas where emerging technologies are disrupting the status quo in entire industrial sectors. ISIS has been at the forefront of this revolution for over a decade, and we continue to expand our role as a leader and partner in key science and technology innovations.

One reason ISIS makes such substantial impacts is that we create game-changing platforms and tools and follow an open-source distribution model that makes these innovations available to everyone. We also produce solid theoretical foundations— along with empirically-grounded methods and high-quality, model-based tools and middle-ware platforms—that foster rapid transition of new technology to both academia and industry.

The success of ISIS—particularly after its recent migration to new facilities on Nashville's vibrant and creative Music Row—has solidified Vanderbilt University's position as a premier research institution. Our success has also had broader implications: by recruiting and training the best faculty, staff, and students in the fields of cyber-physical systems, distributed real-time and embedded middleware, intelligent learning environments, model-integrated computing, software engineering, and trustworthy computing, we are cultivating a high-technology cluster ecosystem in Middle Tennessee and beyond.

The role of IT in engineering practice has greatly influenced innovation, and ISIS has been a key part of that radical transformation. The traditional conservatism of engineering, with its empirical foundations built up over time through the study of fielded artifacts (particularly their failures), is yielding to more integrated, theoretical design understanding applied through modeling, simulation, and emulation at scale. This change to the process of design for complex software-reliant artifacts is more fundamental and significant than many other impacts of IT and is at the heart of what lies ahead.

The articles in this brochure offer you a taste of our current flagship projects in the domains of common operating platform environments, cyber-physical systems, data mining and machine learning, STEM education, systems security and privacy, and wireless sensor networks. You'll also learn about our long-term investments and results in model-integrated computing and middleware for distributed real-time and embedded systems. In addition to pushing the boundaries of science and engineering, we create technologies and tools that solve real-world problems that improve our daily activities and quality of living. Equally important, we are also training our students to supply the intellectual capital that supports the twenty-first century workforce. We look forward to working together with you to invent the future of IT through ISIS.