Slot 3

A glimpse of real-time systems theory and practice in the wake of multicore processors and mixed-criticality
Tullio Vardanega, University of Padova, Italy


There used to be a time in which “real-time systems” were a niche for initiates only, and a rigid cultural divide interposed between real-time systems and the “rest of the (computing) world”. In that world, the development needs and practices of the former were ignored by the latter, and vice versa, so that you could hardly be cognizant of both.

Software has since come to govern pervasively the fabric of our professional, social and personal lives, for transportation, interaction, production and servitization. All those systems, infrastructures, services and applications need flavors of real-time software in them, such that some control may be had about when their software programs would deliver their functional output. This is why many more developers need to know about real-time systems, and the earlier divide has given way to the path of a (slow but definite) cultural convergence.

Two effects of that convergence, both fruits of the new millennium, have fractured the body of knowledge of real-time systems. The first was the transition to multicore processors, which challenged the single-processor assumption on which real-time systems theory had rested, in its bottom-up reasoning for timing analysis, and top-down for response-time (schedulability) analysis. The second was the advent of the mixed-criticality notion, which required abandoning the prior preference for physical segregation with its consequent waste of precious computing resources.

This express course looks at how those two sets of challenges came about, what their implications are, and how they can be addressed, thus making acquaintance with classic and novel elements of theory and practice of real-time systems. The course is designed to not require prior specialized knowledge by participants.


Tullio Vardanega currently is at the Department of Mathematics of the University of Padua, Italy, which he joined in January 2002. He holds a master’s degree in Computer Science obtained at the University of Pisa, IT, in 1986, and a PhD in Computer Science obtained at the Technical University of Delft, NL, while working at European Space Agency Research and Technology Center (ESA/ESTEC), where he was from July 1991 to December 2001. At ESA, he held responsibilities for research and technology transfer projects ranging from software engineering methods and tools to real-time systems theory and technology, for use in the production of the software embedded on board satellite platforms and launcher avionics. At the University of Padua, he took on teaching, research and supervision in the areas of high-integrity real-time systems, software engineering, distributed and cloud computing, active learning methods and computing education.

He has been running a score of research projects in the areas of his research interests on funding from international and national organizations. He has co-authored over 100 refereed papers, and held organizational roles in a number of international events and bodies, including ESA, the European Commission, ISO, Ada-Europe, ACM and IEEE.

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