Talk by Albert Cheng - Developing Embedded Real-Time and Cyber-Physical Systems: Functional Reactive Programming and Response Time Analysis


SPEAKER: Albert Cheng, University of Houston

HOST: Alan Hu

DATE/TIME: Tuesday, December 3, 4:00 pm      

LOCATION: ICCS X836 (CS Boardroom), 2366 Main Mall


The use of sophisticated digital systems to control complex physical
components in real-time has grown at a rapid pace. These applications range
from traditional stand-alone systems to highly-networked cyber-physical
systems (CPS's), spanning a diverse array of software architectures and
control models. Examples include automobile adaptive braking, industrial
robotic assembly, medical pacemakers, autonomous (ground, air, and sea)
vehicular travel, remote surgery, physical manipulation of
nano-structures, search-and-rescue, and space exploration. Since all these
applications interact directly with the physical world and often have
humans in the loop, we must ensure their physical safety.

Obviously, the correctness of these embedded systems and CPS's depends
not only on the effects or results they produce, but also on the time at
which these results are produced. For example, when the driver of a car
applies the brake, the anti-lock braking controller analyzes the
environment in which the controller is embedded (car speed, road surface,
direction of travel) and activates the brake with the appropriate
frequency within fractions of a second. Both the result (brake activation)
and the time at which the result is produced are important in ensuring the
safety of the car, its driver and passengers. In a CPS consisting of a
multitude of vehicles and communication components with the goal to avoid
collisions and reduce traffic congestions, formal safety verification and
response time analysis are essential to the certification and use of such

The benefits of using the functional (reactive) programming (FRP) over the
imperative programming style found in languages such as C/C++ and Java for
implementing embedded and real-time software are several.
The functional programming paradigm allows the programmer to intuitively
describe safety-critical behaviors of the system,
thus lowering the chance of introducing bugs in the design phase. Its
stateless nature of execution does not require the use of synchronization
primitives like mutexes and semaphores, thus reducing the complexity in
programming. However, accurate response time analysis of FRP-based
controllers remains a largely unexplored problem. This talk will introduce
a framework for accurate response time analysis, scheduling, and
verification of embedded controllers implemented as FRP programs.


Albert M. K. Cheng is Professor and former interim Associate Chair
of the Computer Science Department at the University of Houston (UH).
His research interests center on the design, specification, modeling,
scheduling, and formal verification of real-time, embedded, and
cyber-physical systems, green/power/thermal-aware computing, software
engineering, knowledge-based systems, and networking.
He is the founding Director of the UH Real-Time Systems Laboratory.
He received the B.A. with Highest Honors in Computer Science,
graduating Phi Beta Kappa at age 19, the M.S. in Computer Science with a
minor in Electrical Engineering at age 21, and the Ph.D. in Computer
Science at age 25, all from The University of Texas at Austin, where he
held a GTE Foundation Doctoral Fellowship.
He has served as a technical consultant for a number of organizations,
including IBM and Shell, and was also a visiting professor in the
Departments of Computer Science at Rice University and at the City
University of Hong Kong. He is a co-founder of, where he is
currently the Chief Strategy and Technology Director.

Dr. Cheng is the author/co-author of over 180
refereed publications in leading journals (including IEEE Transactions on
Computers, IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, and IEEE
Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering) and top-tier conferences
(such as RTSS, RTAS, ICPADS, PADL, and ISLPED), and has received numerous
awards, including the U.S. National Science Foundation Research Initiation
Award and the Texas Advanced Research Program Grant.
He has been invited to present seminars, tutorials, panel positions, and
keynotes at over 80 conferences, universities, and organizations.
He is and has been on the technical program committees (including several
program chair positions) of over 200 conferences, symposia, workshops, and
editorial boards (including the IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering
1998-2003 and the IEEE Transactions on Computers 2011-present).
He is Guest Co-Editor of a 2013 Special Issue on Rigorous Modeling and
Analysis of Cyber-Physical Systems of the IEEE Embedded Systems Letters,
and Program Co-Chair of the IEEE International Conference on Service
Oriented Computing and Applications (SOCA) 2013.

Dr. Cheng is the author of the popular senior/graduate-level textbook
entitled Real-Time Systems: Scheduling, Analysis, and Verification (John
Wiley & Sons), 2nd printing with updates, 2005.
He is a Senior Member of the IEEE; an Honorary Member of the Institute for
Systems and Technologies of Information, Control and Communication
(INSTICC); and a Fellow of the Institute of Physics (IOP).
Dr. Cheng has been nominated to become an IEEE Fellow this year.