Talks » Engineering Complex Computational Ecosystems

Engineering Complex Computational Ecosystems

Danilo Pianini
Self-organising pervasive ecosystems of devices are set to become a major vehicle for delivering infrastructure and end-user services. The inherent complexity of such systems poses new challenges to those who want to dominate it by applying the principles of engineering. The recent growth in number and distribution of devices with decent computational and communicational abilities, that suddenly accelerated with the massive diffusion of smartphones and tablets, is delivering a world with a much higher density of devices in space. Also, communication technologies seem to be focussing on short-range device-to-device (P2P) interactions, with technologies such as Bluetooth and Near-Field Communication gaining greater adoption. Locality and situatedness become key to providing the best possible experience to users, and the classic model of a centralised, enormously powerful server gathering and processing data becomes less and less efficient with device density. Accomplishing complex global tasks without a centralised controller responsible of aggregating data, however, is a challenging task. In particular, there is a local-to-global issue that makes the application of engineering principles challenging at least: designing device-local programs that, through interaction, guarantee a certain global service level. In this thesis, we first analyse the state of the art in coordination systems, then motivate the work by describing the main issues of pre-existing tools and practices and identifying the improvements that would benefit the design of such complex software ecosystems.

The contribution can be divided in three main branches. First, we introduce a novel simulation toolchain for pervasive ecosystems, designed for allowing good expressiveness still retaining high performance. Second, we leverage existing coordination models and patterns in order to create new spatial structures. Third, we introduce a novel language, based on the existing ``Field Calculus'' and integrated with the aforementioned toolchain, designed to be usable for practical aggregate programming.
Presented by Danilo Pianini
PhD Defense
Bologna, 14/04/2015