Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

University of Leicester Team Fight Computer 'Obesity' Crisis

05.12.2007
Fighting software flab is a priority say scientists

Obesity is not just a problem for people. Cutting-edge research in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Leicester is tackling the problem of ‘obesity’ in computer software.

Scientists say that although software does not wear out like cars and other equipment, if it does not follow a healthy life style, it can become obese, fragile or brittle and stop performing well.

The danger to operating systems is acute in sectors that are undergoing modernisation and institutions like banks, warn the Leicester team.

Now a group of researchers at the University of Leicester are collaborating with ATX Software, a company that develops technology that supports re-engineering of legacy systems, in devising new methods and techniques that can be used to keep software agile and fit for purpose.

This research is being sponsored by the Marie-Curie programme as an Industry-Academia Partnership called Leg2Net.

Professor José Luiz Fiadeiro, the coordinator of Leg2Net, explained: “To many people, software is something that allows us to use a computer to perform certain activities (like writing a piece of text). However, software doesn't just sit inside the computer. It has a life of its own and evolves over time.

“This is what happens, for instance, when we are asked if we want to download an updated version of the application that we have just launched. The fact that software needs to be continually adapted in order to deliver the same level of satisfaction to the user (or even increase it), is known as Lehman's first law of software evolution.

“Large organisations such as banks use very complex software applications and evolving them is a highly challenging task. For a start, there is not only one user to be kept satisfied. If one is not careful, complexity increases as software is evolved. This is known as Lehman's second law of software evolution.”

Luis Andrade, CEO of ATX Software, adds: “Very often, layers of software keep being added without restructuring what was there already, or new applications are coarsely stitched to old ones without taking into account the global structure or architecture of the system.

“In modern terms, we could say that software becomes "obese" as it lets "fat" accumulate, for instance, old code that is no longer necessary. As a result, applications become less and less efficient, more and more difficult to change. And, when this happens, systems begin to lack the agility, flexibility, and responsiveness that companies require to address the fierce competition and market volatility that characterises business today.”

The intervention technique is tantamount to 'liposuction' a one-off application that restructures the software and delivers a high-level architecture (muscle) that is independent of the code.

However, in order for computer software to function healthily, changes to the application are done on the architecture –the scientists effectively work on the muscle - and the code is generated automatically so as to preserve the architecture. However, if people (programmers) fiddle directly with the code, the architectural link is lost and 'fat' starts to accumulate again.

At Leicester, the Leg2Net team is researching some of the techniques that can be used to combat this problem. As with humans, Professor Reiko Heckel says, one can make a surgical operation to remove the fat. In software engineering, this requires a careful analysis of the code, breaking it into meaningful chunks so that one can understand what is "fat" and what is "muscle", and reorganise what is left so that the original functionality is preserved. These re-engineering techniques are based on graphs and require sophisticated mathematical operations - a job for specialists, supported by clever software tools such as those developed by ATX.

As with humans, if software does not change its ‘life style’, fat will accumulate again. One of the methods that has been gaining popularity for keeping software fit and agile is the adoption of a service-oriented architecture.

This is an infrastructure that reduces complexity and maximises flexibility by relying not on monolithic systems put together from rigid and static connections between components, but on systems that can be dynamically reconfigured by procuring the best service that can contribute to the task at hand.

Professor Heckel continued: “At Leicester, we are doing research aimed precisely at re-engineering "obese" (aka "legacy") software into such service-oriented architectures, and on ways of supporting evolution within those architectures.”

Ather Mirza | alfa
Further information:
http://www.le.ac.uk.

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A step towards controlling spin-dependent petahertz electronics by material defects

The operational speed of semiconductors in various electronic and optoelectronic devices is limited to several gigahertz (a billion oscillations per second). This constrains the upper limit of the operational speed of computing. Now researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg, Germany, and the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay have explained how these processes can be sped up through the use of light waves and defected solid materials.

Light waves perform several hundred trillion oscillations per second. Hence, it is natural to envision employing light oscillations to drive the electronic...

Im Focus: Freiburg researcher investigate the origins of surface texture

Most natural and artificial surfaces are rough: metals and even glasses that appear smooth to the naked eye can look like jagged mountain ranges under the microscope. There is currently no uniform theory about the origin of this roughness despite it being observed on all scales, from the atomic to the tectonic. Scientists suspect that the rough surface is formed by irreversible plastic deformation that occurs in many processes of mechanical machining of components such as milling.

Prof. Dr. Lars Pastewka from the Simulation group at the Department of Microsystems Engineering at the University of Freiburg and his team have simulated such...

Im Focus: Skyrmions like it hot: Spin structures are controllable even at high temperatures

Investigation of the temperature dependence of the skyrmion Hall effect reveals further insights into possible new data storage devices

The joint research project of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that had previously demonstrated...

Im Focus: Making the internet more energy efficient through systemic optimization

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, recently completed a 5-year research project looking at how to make fibre optic communications systems more energy efficient. Among their proposals are smart, error-correcting data chip circuits, which they refined to be 10 times less energy consumptive. The project has yielded several scientific articles, in publications including Nature Communications.

Streaming films and music, scrolling through social media, and using cloud-based storage services are everyday activities now.

Im Focus: New synthesis methods enhance 3D chemical space for drug discovery

After helping develop a new approach for organic synthesis -- carbon-hydrogen functionalization -- scientists at Emory University are now showing how this approach may apply to drug discovery. Nature Catalysis published their most recent work -- a streamlined process for making a three-dimensional scaffold of keen interest to the pharmaceutical industry.

"Our tools open up whole new chemical space for potential drug targets," says Huw Davies, Emory professor of organic chemistry and senior author of the paper.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

70th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting: Around 70 Laureates set to meet with young scientists from approx. 100 countries

12.02.2020 | Event News

11th Advanced Battery Power Conference, March 24-25, 2020 in Münster/Germany

16.01.2020 | Event News

Laser Colloquium Hydrogen LKH2: fast and reliable fuel cell manufacturing

15.01.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Sweet beaks: What Galapagos finches and marine bacteria have in common

20.02.2020 | Life Sciences

Social networks reveal dating in blue tits

20.02.2020 | Life Sciences

More focus and comfort at telephone workstations

20.02.2020 | Communications Media

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>