Roger Needham lecture 2010

Timing is everything

Speaker: Dr Joël Ouaknine, co-author of a large number of research papers, published in various journals.

Our society is becoming increasingly reliant on computer systems; think of mobile phones, Sat Nav, the Internet, and so on. A modern car typically harbours tens to hundreds of microprocessors, themselves running several tens of millions of lines of code, controlling such critical components as fuel injection, airbags, and anti-lock braking systems.

Many of these devices operate in the background, reacting in real-time to a complex environment, being subject to a wide array of functional and timing constraints. A major modern scientific challenge is to devise effective methodologies for accurately modelling and analysing such real-time computer systems, in order to verify and guarantee that they function as they are intended to.

In this talk, Dr Quaknine will describe some of the fundamental paradigms and algorithms for reasoning about real-time systems. Perhaps surprisingly, several basic questions of decidability and complexity turn out to be remarkably difficult, and a number of problems remain open after some two decades of work in the field.

Dr Quaknine will present, at a high level, some of the deep connections that are found between real-time verification and mathematical logic, automata theory, combinatorics and graph theory. How do we expect to translate parts of the rich body of theoretical work in real-time systems into concrete engineering achievements, in the context of ongoing collaborations with industrial partners from the automotive and avionics sectors?