The Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS)

The Center for Education and Research in
Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS)

Albert Cheng - University of Houston

Students: Spring 2023, unless noted otherwise, sessions will be virtual on Zoom.

Elements of Robust Real-Time Systems: Regularity-Based Virtualization and Functional Reactive Programming

Mar 01, 2023

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The use of sophisticated digital systems to control complex physical components in real-time has grown at a rapid pace. These applications range from traditional stand-alone systems to highly-networked cyber-physical systems (CPS), spanning a diverse array of software architectures and control models. Examples include city-wide traffic control, robotics, medical systems, autonomous vehicular travel, green buildings, physical manipulation of nano-structures, and space exploration. Since all these applications interact directly with the physical world and often have humans in the loop, we must ensure their robustness, security, and physical safety. Obviously, the correctness of these real-time systems and CPS depends not only on the effects or results they produce, but also on the time at which these results are produced. For instance, in a CPS consisting of a multitude of vehicles and communication components with the goal to avoid collisions and reduce traffic congestions, formal safety verification and response time analysis are essential to the certification and use of such systems. This seminar introduces two key elements for building robust real-time systems: regularity-based virtualization and functional reactive programming.

Real-time resource partitioning (RP) divides hardware resources (processors, cores, and other components) into temporal partitions and allocates these partitions as virtual resources (physical resources at a fraction of their service rates) to application tasks. RP can be a layer in the OS or firmware directly interfacing the hardware, and is a key enabling technology for virtualization and cloud computing. Open, virtualized real-time systems make it easy to securely add and remove software applications as well as to increase resource utilization and reduce implementation cost when compared to systems which physically assign distinct computing resources to run different applications. The first part of this talk will describe ways based on the Regularity-based Resource Partition Model (RRP) to maintain the schedulability of real-time tasks as if they were scheduled on dedicated physical resources and increase the utilization of the physical multi-resources.

The benefits of using the functional (reactive) programming (FRP) over the imperative programming style found in languages such as C/C++ and Java for implementing embedded and real-time software are several. The functional programming paradigm allows the programmer to intuitively describe safety-critical behaviors of the system and connect its components, thus lowering the chance of introducing bugs in the design phase, resulting in a robust and secure implementation. Its stateless nature of execution does not require the use of synchronization primitives like mutexes and semaphores, thus reducing the complexity in programming on parallel and multi-core platforms. Hence, FRP can potentially transform the way we implement next-generation real-time systems and CPS. However, accurate response time analysis of FRP-based controllers remains a largely unexplored problem. The second part of this talk will explore a framework for accurate response time analysis, scheduling, and verification of embedded controllers implemented in FRP.

About the Speaker

Albert Cheng
Dr. Albert Cheng, a U.S. Department of State Fulbright Specialist (2019-2024), is a full professor and former interim associate chair of computer science and a full professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Houston in Houston, Texas.  He was a visiting professor at Rice University and the City University of Hong Kong.  He received the B.A. degree with highest honors in computer science, graduating Phi Beta Kappa, the M.S. degree in computer science with a minor in electrical engineering, and the Ph.D. degree in computer science, all from The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas.

Prof. Cheng is a Distinguished Member and Speaker of the ACM, an Honorary Member of the Institute for Systems and Technologies of Information, Control and Communication, and a Fellow of the Institute of Physics. An author of over 270 publications, Prof. Cheng is an Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering (TKDE) and the ACM Computing Surveys (CSUR). His research interests center on the design, specification, analysis, optimization, formal verification, scheduling, and implementation of embedded and real-time systems, real-time virtualization, cyber-physical systems/Internet of things, real-time machine learning, knowledge-based systems, functional reactive systems, and security.

He received the 2015 University of Houston's Lifetime Faculty Award for Mentoring Undergraduate Research.  He implemented in C the first model checker, co-invented by ACM Turing Award winner E. Allen Emerson, augmented with semantics-based analysis for rule-based expert systems. He authored the popular textbook Real-Time Systems: Scheduling, Analysis, and Verification. Prof. Cheng is the Founder and CEO of AMKC Informatics, LLC.

Speaker's website:

Professor Albert M. K. Cheng's Homepage (

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