Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Keeping computing compatible

29.09.2008
As distributed computing becomes universal, the programs that make devices work really have to work together. European researchers have gone back to basics to create a development toolkit that guarantees this sort of compatibility.

Early in 2006, an EU-funded research group called SIMS, for Semantic Interfaces for Mobile Services, took on the challenge of how to envision, design and develop the next generation of software to power widely distributed and highly interactive devices.

The result – a suite of tools for speeding the design and validation of software and services that are guaranteed to interact smoothly – is now being applied and tested by a team of developers.

When SIMS-inspired services are widespread, says Richard Sanders, the SIMS project coordinator, devices such as smart phones, PDAs, and computers will interact with each other seamlessly, update themselves automatically, and offer users the ability to implement new services that are guaranteed to work from the start.

... more about:
»PDAs »SIMS »Semantic »compatibility »smart phones

“If you have communicating software and the communication is important, you want to make sure it works when it interacts with other software,” says Sanders. “SIMS provides the tools to check those scenarios and actually guarantees compatibility.”

Autonomous and collaborating components

The SIMS researchers based their approach on two key factors that they felt had previously been neglected.

Communication and computation are becoming increasingly collaborative and, at the same time, the programs and components that make the devices that we rely on to work are becoming increasingly autonomous.

To accomplish a goal as simple as delivering a package, multiple agents using a wide range of fixed and mobile devices must exchange a variety of messages. For the package to get to the right place at the right time, every exchange has to produce the desired result.

So, the software components making all those interfaces work have to be compatible.

Unlike a telephone call, where one device attempts to initiate a particular kind of connection with another, most real-world services now involve many loosely interconnected software components running on a variety of devices initiating complex sequences of contacts and utilising many different messaging modes.

Most developers, notes Sanders, still think in terms of a single client and server, where one component takes the initiative and the other responds. “We find this very limiting,” he says. “We’re used to lots of components whose combined behaviour produces a service, and where many of them can take the initiative.”

Coded for success

To reach their goal, the SIMS researchers had to re-examine the process of service development from the ground up.

“The biggest challenge was to understand the basic concepts and find the right way to explain them to ourselves and others,” says Sanders. “Concepts like what is a service, what is a goal, what is a semantic interface, and how do these relate to software?”

One result of their back-to-basics approach is that the development of a new service starts with a model of what that service should accomplish rather than with computer code.

The model uses semantic interfaces to specify what goals need to be realised and how the components of the system need to behave and interact to bring that about. Semantic interfaces detail, in a highly structured way, what kinds of connections, exchanges and results are meaningful and useful within a particular domain.

Crucially, the ability of components to communicate with and understand each other can be checked within these models, rather than after reams of computer code have been written.

“We can validate that nothing goes bad; that you don’t send me a message that I won’t understand,” says Sanders.

Developers can create computer code to run devices directly from the validated models, code that is guaranteed to work with all the components of the system.

The researchers believe using their approach and tools could head off most of the interaction errors that trip up systems and frustrate users.

In addition, devices could detect when new or improved services become available, and update themselves automatically as they interact without the risk of introducing incompatible software.

Sanders is eager to see SIMS used wherever interactive services and the software that makes them work are being developed. The result he envisages is a dynamic, service-oriented market place that would work far more smoothly and efficiently than today.

“The greatest potential lies in the way it can support a market place with lots of people specifying services and lots of companies making components that implement these services,” says Sanders. “This market place would support the spreading of software in a much more efficient way than you currently see, and without quality and compatibility problems.”

The SIMS project received funding under the ICT theme of the EU’s Sixth Framework Programme for research.

Christian Nielsen | alfa
Further information:
http://cordis.europa.eu/ictresults
http://cordis.europa.eu/ictresults/index.cfm/section/news/tpl/article/BrowsingType/Features/ID/90077

Further reports about: PDAs SIMS Semantic compatibility smart phones

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano
20.10.2017 | Brown University

nachricht New software speeds origami structure designs
12.10.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>