[publications] A Generative Approach to
Customized Run-time Platforms
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Computer systems being embedded in some larger system or piece of equipment face a number of special constraints that are — at least in this combination and strictness — unusual for conventional desktop systems. Embedded systems are typically determined by a particularly high cost pressure, a long product life-cycle, tight real-time requirements, and strict reliability requirements. As a result, the respective solutions have to be optimized for business-driven and life-cycle factors rather than for maximum computing throughput, not least resulting in far-reaching effects on the required system software support. Especially the inherent scarcity of computing resources calls for carefully optimized run-time platforms which provide exactly the functionality needed by the individual application, and which exhibit exactly those nonfunctional properties expected by the application. A rapid development of such tailored run-time platforms is a crucial factor for short time-to-market cycles and has consequently become a major concern for the construction of embedded systems in general. The importance of efficient development processes for tailored system software might be even more obvious when considering the fact that designs for embedded applications are typically not unique but form the basis for a whole family of products with each product requiring a slightly different platform. Conventional approaches to increasing development efficiency based on the reuse of black-box components or even on the reuse of complete systems without specific adaptations are far from giving appropriate answers in this context.

This thesis presents a new software technology allowing for a strongly tool-supported development of tailored run-time platforms, and it especially addresses the questions of how to control the platform development process by application requirements. The proposed generative approach is based on the concept of reusable generic software components and the deployment of generator techniques to customize these components. Generic components are pre-fabricated building blocks designed to be easily tailored for the solution of specific problems, exposing so-called generic parameters which allow to later adjust both functional and nonfunctional properties that have been left variable explicitly. Based on appropriate parameter values, generators mechanically instantiate generic components to customized software elements exhibiting the desired properties. The component selection and configuration process is ultimately controlled by heuristics mapping requirements to run-time platform solutions. In this context, the technique of Extended Design Spaces allows to capture such design rules in a semi-formal way and to partly automate the development process.

  L. Baum: A Generative Approach to Customized Run-time Platforms

L. Baum:
A Generative Approach to Customized Run-time Platforms; Shaker Press, 2001; ISBN 3-8265-8966-1.

"Best Ph.D. Thesis in Software Engineering" Award 2001


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