Workshop Objective and Background:
The High Confidence Software and Systems (HCSS) Coordinating Group (CG) of the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) subcommittee seeks input from researchers, industry, and government agencies regarding problems, questions, and new directions for research on technology for time-critical systems. Each new generation of cyber-physical systems (CPS) raises the level of trust that people must put in these systems, while achieving assurances that the systems are worthy of that trust becomes more difficult. Examples of critical reliance on cyber-physical systems can be seen in defense systems, civil aviation, highways, energy production, advanced manufacturing, and modern healthcare. These systems make increasingly complex demands for real-time coordination among distributed subsystems. Even the current generation of large-scale real-time cyber-physical systems may unpredictably miss timing requirements, and expose the whole system to the risk of failure. Certainly progress on future systems will suffer without a better theory and practice of timed CPS. The solution will require contributions from researchers and practitioners from all relevant fields including control, embedded systems, hardware, networking, real-time systems, security, sensing, software, and timing.
Time has always been a critical issue in science and technology. Time measurement, distribution, and agreement technology has reached an important inflection point providing much more accurate time references on physical scales ranging from microsystems to global systems. Advances in distributed clock synchronization technology, such as GPS time and IEEE 1588, create new opportunities and challenges. On one hand, widely distributed systems can have a nearly synchronous view of the current time, thereby enabling better functionality and greater reliability so long as the synchronization mechanism works. On the other hand, mechanisms for time synchronization do fail. Natural phenomena and intentionally malicious attacks can disrupt timing in complex systems with catastrophic effects. Several recent trends have exacerbated time-related problems by increasing reliance on technologies with intrinsic time variability such as wireless communication, multi-core processors, virtualization, and cloud computing. Advances in the science of time-critical systems are needed if we are to be able to exploit the benefits of these technologies with assurance that systems will operate safely and reliably. We call these advances the “new clockwork”.
The goal of the workshop is to define a list of needs for research on time-critical aspects of cyber-physical systems so that future research can develop robust foundations for reasoning about time in cyber-physical systems across scales, managing resources to meet timeliness requirements, and ensuring service agreements through new tools, techniques and methodologies. The workshop will be structured as a sequence of panels, presentations and breakout sessions. The workshop will produce a report for the HCSS agencies.