Context and objectives

DiverSE’s research agenda is in the area of software engineering. In this broad domain we develop models, methodologies and theories to address the challenges raised by the emergence of several forms of diversity in the design, deployment and evolution of software intensive systems.
The emergence of software diversity is an essential phenomenon in all application domains that we investigate with our industrial partners. These application domains range from complex systems such as systems of systems (in collaboration with Thales and DGA) and Instrumentation and Control (with EDF) to pervasive combinations of Internet of Things and Internet of Services (with TellU and Software AG) and tactical information systems (with the firefighter department).
Even if today these systems are apparently radically different, we envision a strong convergence  of the scientific principles underpinning their construction and validation towards flexible and open yet dependable systems. In particular, we see that the required flexibility and openness raise challenges for the software layer of these systems that must deal with four dimension of diversity: the textbf{diversity of languages} used by the stakeholders involved in the construction of these systems; the diversity of features required by the different customers; the diversity of runtime environments in which software has to run and adapt; the diversity of implementations that are necessary for resilience through redundancy.

In this context, the major software engineering challenge consists in handling diversity from variability in requirements and design to heterogeneous and dynamic execution environments. In particular this requires considering that the software system must adapt, in unpredictable ways, to changes in the requirements and environment. Conversely, explicitly handling of diversity is a great opportunity to allow software to spontaneously explore alternative design solutions. Concretely, we want to provide software engineers with the ability:

  • to characterize an `envelope’ of possible variations
  • to compose `envelopes’ (to discover new macro envelopes in an opportunistic manner)
  • to dynamically synthesize software inside a given  envelop

The major scientific objective that we must achieve to provide such mechanisms for software engineering is synthesized below

Automatically compose and synthesize software diversity from design to runtime to address unpredictable evolutions of software intensive systems.

Software product lines and associated variability modeling formalisms represent an essential aspect of software diversity, which we already explored in the past and that represent a major foundation of DiverSE’s research agenda. However, DiverSE  also exploits other foundations to handle new forms of diversity: type theory and models of computation for the composition of languages; distributed algorithms and pervasive computation to handle the diversity of execution platforms;  functional and qualitative randomized transformations to synthesize diversity for robust systems.