Using Ontologies to Support Interoperability in Federated Simulation

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Rathnam, Tarun
Paredis, Christiaan J. J.
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A vast array of computer-based simulation tools are used to support engineering design and analysis activities. Several such activities call for the simulation of various coupled sub-systems in parallel, typically to study the emergent behavior of large, complex systems. Most sub-systems have their own simulation models associated with them, which need to interoperate with each other in a federated fashion to simulate system-level behavior. The run-time exchange of information between federate simulations requires a common information model that defines the representation of simulation concepts shared between federates. However, most federate simulations employ disparate representations of shared concepts. Therefore, it is often necessary to implement transformation stubs that convert concepts between their common representation to those used in federate simulations. The tasks of defining a common representation for shared simulation concepts and building translation stubs around them adds to the cost of performing a system-level simulation. In this thesis, a framework to support automation and reuse in the process of achieving interoperability between federate simulations is developed. This framework uses ontologies as a means to capture the semantics of different simulation concepts shared in a federation in a formal, reusable fashion. Using these semantics, a common representation for shared simulation entities, and a corresponding set of transformation stubs to convert entities from their federate to common representations (and vice-versa) are derived automatically. As a foundation to this framework, a schema to enable the capture of simulation concepts in an ontology is specified. Also, a graph-based algorithm is developed to extract the appropriate common information model and transformation procedures between federate and common simulation entities. As a proof of concept, this framework is applied to support the development of a federated air traffic simulation. To progress with the design of an airport, the combined operation of its individual systems (air traffic control, ground traffic control, and ground-based aircraft services) in handling varying volumes of aircraft traffic is to be studied. To do so, the individual simulation models corresponding to the different sub-systems of the airport need to be federated, for which the ontology-based framework is applied.
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