CO-operating Real-time senTient objects:
architecture and
EXperimental  evaluation
  IST Programme RTD Research Project IST-2000-26031.
 [ 1 April 2001 to 31 March 2004]

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Project Summary


We are now at the point where the emergence of a new class of applications that operate independently of direct human control can be envisaged. Future mission-critical computer systems will be comprised of networked components that will act autonomously in responding to a myriad of inputs to affect and control the surrounding environment. Key characteristics of these applications include sentience, autonomy, large scale, time and safety criticality, geographical dispersion, mobility and evolution. The key objective of CORTEX is to explore the fundamental theoretical and engineering issues necessary to support the use of sentient objects to construct large-scale proactive applications and thereby to validate the use of sentient objects as a viable approach to the construction of such applications.


The proposed project will undertake:

  1. Design of a programming model that supports the development of applications constructed from mobile sentient objects. The model needs to take into account the provision of incremental real-time and reliability guarantees. This will encompass:

    development of means to express QoS properties in the model, where QoS is taken as a metric of predictability in terms of timeliness and reliability;

    development of a global model for QoS assurance.


  2. Design of an open, scalable system architecture that reflects the heterogeneous structure and performance of the networks used to support the programming model. This will entail:

    defining adequate abstract network models and providing mappings for the various network types envisaged, ranging from controller area networks (CAN); through Local Area Networks (LAN); to Wide Area Networks (WAN), especially those based on wireless communications technologies.

    recognising the hierarchical structure of the network topology. The basis for the proposed CORTEX architecture is to model the underlying communication infrastructure as a hierarchically structured WAN-of-CANs, i.e., an internetwork whose subnetworks will typically be CANs providing strong timing behaviour, that are interconnected by means of LANs and WANs providing weaker timing guarantees. Individual networks can be viewed as QoS containers within which given QoS degrees can be enforced. The WAN-to-CAN interface is captured in an architectural device that we call a gateway;

    prototyping middleware able to support the model in the envisaged architecture by providing the protocols and services required to support the desired functional and non-functional properties of sentient objects.


  3. Evaluation of the previous results by means of one or more demonstrators that will allow the technology to be assessed.

Approach and Methods:

The CORTEX project is divided into four technical work packages and three other work packages specifically devoted to project management, assessment and dissemination of the results. Upstream is the programming model definition (WP1), which is then refined by concurrently addressing the interaction model and the adequate system architecture (WP2 and WP3), including the necessary middleware services. The demonstrator (WP4) will consolidate the results of the previous work packages, and provide a final evaluation of the project's findings. Due to the nature of this project, specifically oriented to advanced research on new technologies and paradigms, the work will progress accordingly to a spiral methodology, where results are cyclically improved and refined. Therefore, during the course of the project we plan to produce intermediate deliverables with preliminary definitions and specifications, not necessarily coinciding with the end of particular tasks. The other three work packages are obviously outside of this production cycle, at least in the early stages, since they are not concerned with conceptual problems.

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Last updated: 04 Abr 2003.