Tools for testing and certification of distributed, dynamic configurations of a total ship computing environment.

Period of Performance: 04/11/2006 - 04/11/2008

$1000K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Trident Systems, Inc.
10201 Fairfax Boulevard Array
Fairfax, VA 22030
Principal Investigator

Abstract

As software systems become increasingly complex, distributed, component-based, and dynamically reconfigurable, the shortcomings of conventional verification and testing methods have become more pronounced. Faults that lead to failures are hard to localize, and even when system failures are traced back to actual component faults, they are usually established through post analysis of the system execution. Near real-time point-wise detection and localization of component failures at run-time is extremely difficult with existing test and verification processes, where test cases are developed a priori to exercise the system under specific configurations. Emergent configurations along with dynamic patterns of interactions of component instances that are linked and associated at run-time complicate the analysis of the correctness of component interactions. The lack of formal or semi-formal specifications associated with reused components further complicates modular reasoning about system behavior. Therefore, new methodologies and strategies of modular analysis and reasoning for component-based, dynamically reconfigurable complex distributed systems are necessary. In the Phase I SBIR, Trident suggested a computational framework that facilitated a scalable approach to localize the detection of faults that occur at run-time. The elements of the approach are: (1) local certification of components with respect to their contractual specifications, (2) packaging of the contracts, test cases, and built-in self test mechanisms with the component using a metadata wrapper technology, and (3) use of associated run-time interface violation detector mechanisms to detect deviations from acceptable behavior as components reconfigure and interact at run-time. By embodying the behavioral interface models with semi-automatically generated wrappers, the technology supports services for run-time contract violation checking and built-in-self testing even when the underlying component technology does not provide built-in introspective reflection capabilities. The benefits of the method were two fold: First, it demonstrated how behavioral interface specifications and built-in testing could be used to locally certify components and to be packaged and distributed with them; second, the run-time contract violation strategy helped to localize the cause of faults as they occurred at run-time in complex systems. Under this SBIR Phase II effort Trident proposes to apply the methods identified in the successful Phase I, and prove their efficacy in a land-based demonstration in an E-2C computing environment in the ESTEL (Engineering System Test and Evaluation Laboratory) at NAS Patuxent River. Trident will develop and implement the Phase I research and concurrently leverage and tailor selected additional Trident SBIR-based technologies in order to develop, test, and demonstrate in a full scale CVD environment prototype (including the technologies and methodology) to significantly reduce the risks of instantiating the IABM into the E-2C program.