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Cleaveland, Marcus win NSF grant to develop models for cyber-physical systems

Professor Rance Cleaveland (CS/ISR) is the principal investigator and Professor Steve Marcus (ECE/ISR) is co-PI of a new National Science Foundation Cyber-Physical Systems Breakthrough grant, “Compositional Modeling of Cyber-Physical Systems.”

The three-year, $500K grant will develop new mathematical modeling techniques for cyber-physical systems. Cleaveland and Marcus will devise novel conceptual methods for assembling systems from subsystems, and for reasoning about the behavior of systems in terms of the behavior of their computational or physical subsystems. The research will enable scientists and engineers to develop more realistic models of the systems they are designing, and to obtain greater insights into the eventual behavior of these systems without having to build costly prototypes.

Specifically, the researchers will develop the novel modeling paradigm Generalized Synchronization Trees (GSTs) into a rich framework for both describing cyber-physical systems (CPSs) and studying their behavior under interconnection. GSTs are inspired by Milner's use of Synchronization Trees (STs) to model interconnected computing processes, but GSTs generalize the mathematical structure of their forebears in such a way as to encompass systems with discrete ("Cyber") as well as continuous ("Physical") dynamics.

As Milner did for STs, Cleaveland and Marcus will develop an algebraic theory of composition for GSTs. Such theories have a particular advantage over non-algebraic ones: because the composition of two (or more) objects results in an object of the same type, composition operators can be nested to build large structures out of smaller ones. Thus, the theory of GSTs is inherently compositional. The development of the theory involves five distinct but complementary endeavors. Standard models for cyber-physical systems are being encoded as GSTs in a semantically robust way; meaningful notions of composition and congruence for CPSs are being described and studied algebraically; the interplay between behavioral equivalence and the preservation of system properties is being investigated; a notion of real-time (or clock time) is under consideration for GSTs; and GSTs are being assessed as modeling tools for practical design scenarios.

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August 29, 2014


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