GMU Software Engineering Seminar Series

Speaker:     Walid Taha
Title:     Mathematical Equations as Executable Models of Mechanical Systems
Date/Time:    Wed. 1/26/2011 @  3pm
Location:    4201, Engineering Building


[This talk is based on a paper presented at ICCPS 2010, Stockholm, Sweden.]

Cyber-physical systems comprise digital components that directly interact with a physical environment.  Specifying the behavior desired of such systems requires analytical modeling of physical phenomena.  Similarly, testing them requires simulation of continuous systems.  While numerous tools support later stages of developing simulation codes, there is still a large gap between analytical modeling and building running simulators.  This gap significantly impedes the ability of scientists and engineers to develop novel cyber-physical systems.

We propose bridging this gap by automating the mapping from analytical models to simulation codes.  Focusing on mechanical systems as an important class of physical systems, we study the form of analytical models that arise in this domain, along with the process by which domain experts map them to executable codes.  We show that the key steps needed to automate this mapping are 1) a light-weight analysis to partially direct equations, 2) a binding-time analysis, and 3) symbolic differentiation.  In addition to producing a prototype modeling environment, we highlight some limitations in the state of the art in tool support of simulation, and suggest ways in which some of these limitations could be overcome.


Prof. Taha is a Professor of Computer Science at Halmstad University in Sweden, and holds and adjunct position at Rice University in Houston, TX.  He is credited for developing the idea of multi-stage programming, and is the designer of several systems that develop this idea, including MetaOCaml, ConCoqtion, Java Mint, and the Verilog Preprocessor. He was also involved in the development of several other ideas, including statically typed macros, tag elimination, tagless staged interpreters, event-driven functional reactive programming (E-FRP), the notion of exact software design, and gradual typing. In 2010, Taha's publications had over 1,600 citations, and his h-index was 26. Taha was the principal investigator on a number of research awards and contracts from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Semi-conductor Research Consortium (SRC), and Texas Advanced Technology Program (ATP).  He received an NSF CAREER award to develop Java Mint.  He founded the ACM Conference on Generative Programming and Component Engineering (GPCE), the IFIP Working Group on Program Generation (WG 2.11), and the Middle Earth Programming Languages Seminar (MEPLS).  Taha chaired the 2009 IFIP Working Conference on Domain Specific Languages.