Automating Component-Based System Assembly

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Subramanian, Gayatri
Manolios, Panagiotis
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Owing to advancements in component re-use technology, component-based software development (CBSD) has come a long way in developing complex commercial software systems while reducing software development time and cost. However, assembling distributed resource-constrained and safety-critical systems using current assembly techniques is a challenge. Within complex systems when there are numerous ways to assemble the components unless the software architecture clearly defines how the components should be composed, determining the correct assembly that satisfies the system assembly constraints is difficult. Component technologies like CORBA and .NET do a very good job of integrating components, but they do not automate component assembly; it is the system developer's responsibility to ensure thatthe components are assembled correctly. In this thesis, we first define a component-based system assembly (CBSA) technique called "Constrained Component Assembly Technique" (CCAT), which is useful when the system has complex assembly constraints and the system architecture specifies component composition as assembly constraints. The technique poses the question: Does there exist a way of assembling the components that satisfies all the connection, performance, reliability, and safety constraints of the system, while optimizing the objective constraint? To implement CCAT, we present a powerful framework called "CoBaSA". The CoBaSA framework includes an expressive language for declaratively describing component functional and extra-functional properties, component interfaces, system-level and component-level connection, performance, reliability, safety, and optimization constraints. To perform CBSA, we first write a program (in the CoBaSA language) describing the CBSA specifications and constraints, and then an interpreter translates the CBSA program into a satisfiability and optimization problem. Solving the generated satisfiability and optimization problem is equivalent to answering the question posed by CCAT. If a satisfiable solution is found, we deduce that the system can be assembled without violating any constraints. Since CCAT and CoBaSA provide a mechanism for assembling systems that have complex assembly constraints, they can be utilized in several industries like the avionics industry. We demonstrate the merits of CoBaSA by assembling an actual avionic system that could be used on-board a Boeing aircraft. The empirical evaluation shows that our approach is promising and can scale to handle complex industrial problems.
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