Tuesday, 21 September 2010

ULSS Doctoral School - Day 2

Day 2 was the start of the lectures at the doctoral school and there were around 40 students there – mostly from Italy. Linda Northrop (Software Engineering Institute) presented the main findings from their year-long study of ULSS – see their book here. She started the first of her 3 lectures with an overview of ULSS, their characteristics and the challenges that they pose. This lecture really set the scene for the next two weeks and argued that the “inherently conflicting, unknowable, and diverse requirements from the wide variety of stakeholders results in complex requirements that cannot converge.” The remainder of the talk went into more details about the characteristics of ULSS: scale, heterogeneity, people’s changing needs, continuous evolution, erosion of the people/system boundary, normal failures and de-centralised control. Lecture two followed-up on the ULSS characteristics and discussed why current software engineering approaches are not satisfactory for ULSS (because the underlying assumptions are different). Seven research areas were described that provide relevant ideas and inspirations for the addressing some of the ULSS challenges.

The third lecture was a post-study observation where Linda reflected on the outcome of the report since 2006. She said that the report had started a discussion amongst the software engineering community where some argue that ULSS are not new classes of systems and there are already ULSS today, and she acknowledged that there are. ULSS does not mean that the old practices have to be abandoned, they are still needed for some types of systems (not all systems are ULS). Also, many argue about definitions but these are not that important, it really doesn’t matter if you call it ULS, System of Systems, Complex Net-Centric Systems etc.

Linda finished her lectures by providing an overview of some general computing trends and emerging technologies and asking us to think about how these trends and technologies can be used to address the challenges of ULSS.

  • General computing trends: loose coupling, global distribution of hardware, software and people, horizontal integration and convergence, virtualization, commoditization of technology, end-user empowerment, large-scale data mining, low energy consumption, multi-core and parallelization.

  • Emerging technologies: cloud computing, complex event processing, data intelligence, end-user programming (web-based), green computing, mobile computing, opportunistic networks, self-* computing).

Project Work
I'm going to keep a separate blog post about the project work.

Some pictures from today
Coffee area
View from the lecture room
Students discussing project work

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