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Title page for ETD etd-04182012-070958

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Dabholkar, Akshay Vishwas
Author's Email Address akshay.dabholkar@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-04182012-070958
Title Principles for Safe and Automated Middleware Specializations for Distributed, Real-time and Embedded Systems
Degree PhD
Department Computer Science
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Dr. Aniruddha Gokhale Committee Chair
Dr. Douglas Schmidt Committee Member
Dr. Gabor Karsai Committee Member
Dr. Janos Sztipanovits Committee Member
Dr. Jeffrey Gray Committee Member
  • latency
  • footprint
  • Specialization
  • Algorithms
  • Generation
  • Real-time
  • Distributed
  • Fault Tolerance
  • resource constrained
  • System-of-Systems
  • throughput
  • Optimization
  • Adaptation
  • Middleware
  • utilization
  • overhead
Date of Defense 2012-04-02
Availability unrestricted
Developing distributed applications, particularly those for distributed, real-time and embedded

(DRE) systems, is a difficult and complex undertaking due to the need to address

four major challenges: the complexity of programming interprocess communication, the

need to support a wide range of services across heterogeneous platforms and promote reuse,

the need to efficiently utilize resources, and the need to safely adapt to runtime conditions.

The first two challenges are addressed to a large extent by standardized, general-purpose

middleware. However, the need to support a large variety of applications in different domains

has resulted in very feature-rich implementations of these standardized middleware.

Consequently, this feature-richness acts counter productive to resolving the remaining two

challenges; instead it incurs excessive memory footprint and performance overhead, as well

as increased cost of testing and maintenance. Moreover, despite the richness in general-purpose

features, middleware often lacks application-specific behavior that is needed to

adapt to runtime conditions including faults.

To address the four challenges all at once while leveraging the benefits of general-purpose

middleware, this dissertation describes a scientific approach to specializing the

middleware. To enable better comprehension, easier validation and to promote reuse, the

dissertation presents a three dimensional taxonomy to document recurring specializations,

and assess the strengths and weaknesses of the documented techniques. The principles of

separation of concerns are used in the context of this taxonomy to define six stages of a

middleware specialization process lifecycle. Finally, to overcome the accidental complexities

stemming from the manual use of specialization techniques, such as aspect-oriented

programming (AOP), feature-oriented programming (FOP), and reflection, the six-stage

specialization process has been codified resulting in concrete tool artifacts that automate

the specialization process for different requirements.

The tooling resulting from this dissertation includes (1) FORMS (Feature Oriented

Reverse Engineering based Middleware Specializations), which provides coarse-grained

middleware feature pruning through a decision tree based reasoning of desired middleware

features and a novel reverse-engineering algorithm, (2) GeMS (Generative Middleware

Specializations), which provides fine-grained middleware feature pruning through

an automated process that deduces the context for specializations through application invariant

properties and subsequently optimizes the middleware design patterns and frameworks

through generative source-to-source transformations, (3) GrAFT (Generative Aspects

for Fault-Tolerance), which provides fine-grained middleware feature augmentation

by weaving application-specific reliability concerns in system artifacts through model-to-text,

model-to-code transformations, and (4) SafeMAT (Safe Middleware Adaptation for

Real-Time Fault-Tolerance), which enables safe middleware adaptation to runtime failures

while improving predictability and resource utilization within the hard real-time constraints.

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