ERTS 2014: Integrated and Simpler Systems

I attended last week the 7th edition of the congress on Embedded Real Time Software and Systems that takes place in Toulouse (France) every two years. It started with Joseph Sifakis inviting all of us to work on the integration of embedded systems with Internet, and the Engineering Executive Vice-President of Airbus, Charles Champion, describing the many future challenges of avionics and asking, maybe surprisingly, for simpler software and systems to meet these challenges.

At the software level, I see two important trends contributing to these goals: model-based development and formal methods. The former because it facilitates communication between systems and software engineers, at the right level of abstraction, the latter because it makes the verification of these ever larger and integrated systems tractable thanks to abstraction and automation. No surprise then that both were very much present in presentations at the conference. A difference with previous years was that many of these presentations were backed by large industrial case studies. For example, for model-based development, the use of MBD in the context of DO-178C at Airbus Military, and for formal methods, the use of Event-B for requirements verification at BAE Submarine. The most interesting trend for me was the combination of model-based development and formal methods to manage greater integration between systems. We described such a workflow in our paper on System to Software Integrity. I expect more of these in the next edition.

Another highlight of this conference for me was certification, with two sessions dedicated to New Trends in Certification, among which a majority of papers on formal methods (5 papers). It will be interesting in the years to come to follow progress on the convergence of certification domains on the issues of tool qualification and formal methods.

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