Interview with ESOS '13 Co-Chair, Professor Christian Müller-Schloer

In this interview, Professor Christian Müller-Schloer offers a preview of ESOS '13. ESOS '13 will take place in conjunction with the 10th International Conference on Autonomic Computing (ICAC ’13) during USENIX Federated Conferences Week.

Rikki: The Workshop on Embedded Self-Organizing Systems is new at FCW '13. What was your vision as you planned for the 2013 event?

Professor Müller-Schloer: Self-organizing computing systems have become a major research area in the last years as self-organization promises to deal with the increasing complexity of future computing systems. Therefore, substantial effort has been spent in different research initiatives, among them the Organic Computing Initiative, to address self-X features such as self-configuration, self-optimization, self-healing, self-protection, etc.

Embedded systems are a key technology in many areas of today’s life. Such systems have to cope with numerous runtime challenges such as limited power supply, limited space, limited heat dissipation, and real-time conditions. Moreover, embedded controllers have to be highly redundant and reliable for safety reasons, which increase the costs.

The use of self-organizing principles for embedded systems can help to reduce the effort and cost for developing and maintaining future embedded systems. At the same time, SO will be able to adapt and optimize these systems at runtime. Not only will embedded self-organizing systems (ESOS) be more power-efficient and space-saving, they will also be easier to program and simpler to use for non-experts.

Rikki: What should attendees expect to learn at this workshop?

Professor Müller-Schloer: The workshop will be a forum for leading researchers to exchange ideas, presenting advances in state-of-the-art and brainstorming on promising directions for future research in embedded self-organizing systems. 

Rikki: Were there any papers that really stood out to you? If so, which ones and why?

Professor Müller-Schloer: In her Keynote [One, Few, Many: How the Number of Cooperating Agents Affects Strategies for Self-Organized Behavior], Phyllis Nelson, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, will talk about the challenges of complex and interconnected technical systems (like solar and wind generation in the electrical grid, the next generation of mobile communications infrastructure, and adaptive traffic control in a large city): integration of large and variable numbers of independent heterogeneous devices, some of which may not even exist at design time.  For such complex and interconnected systems, complexity itself is a central technical challenge. The natural world provides a wealth of examples of ensembles of heterogeneous components, which collectively exhibit determinate and reproducible behavior.  These examples demonstrate that self-organization is possible, but it is not yet clear how best to achieve such results in our Engineered systems.  Results from a testbed of small robotic vehicles suggest that the properties and capabilities appropriate for integrating a few agents may be significantly different from those that enable desired self-organized behaviors of ensembles of large numbers of agents.

Artificial Hormone Systems have shown their potential to regulate task distribution in multicore computers. The operation principle of the AHS is based on the hormone loop. This is a sequence of actions and wait states executed periodically on each PE. Mathias Pacher and Uwe Brinkschulte present a formal specification of the hormone loop. The outcome is to guarantee consistent hormone computation (important for keeping the real-time bounds of the self-X properties) and a fast recognition of task or PE failures.

In the afternoon session, several applications of embedded self-organizing systems will be discussed. Matthias Sommer et al. will present a new approach to forecast short-term traffic conditions [Using a Neural Network for Forecasting in an Organic Traffic Control Management System]. This is a crucial ability in self-organized traffic control systems.

Aline Bousquet et al. will present in their paper on Mandatory Access Control for the Android Dalvik Virtual Machine an innovative self-organizing system, which transparently protects existing Java applications without any modifications.

Rikki: What else should attendees know about ESOS '13?

Professor Müller-Schloer: ESOS has been inspired by the German Organic Computing research initiative launched in 2003, which investigates the usage of self-organization and the control of emergence in technical systems.