Distributed Real-time Systems - Deterministic Protocols for Wireless Networks and Model-Driven Development with SDL
Dissertation, Fachbereich Informatik, Technische Universität Kaiserslautern, 2015
In a networked system, the communication system is indispensable but often the weakest link w.r.t. performance and reliability. This, particularly, holds for wireless communication systems, where the error- and interference-prone medium and the character of network topologies implicate special challenges. However, there are many scenarios of wireless networks, in which a certain quality-of-service has to be provided despite these conditions. In this regard, distributed real-time systems, whose realization by wireless multi-hop networks becomes increasingly popular, are a particular challenge. For such systems, it is of crucial importance that communication protocols are deterministic and come with the required amount of efficiency and predictability, while additionally considering scarce hardware resources that are a major limiting factor of wireless sensor nodes. This, in turn, does not only place demands on the behavior of a protocol but also on its implementation, which has to comply with timing and resource constraints. The first part of this thesis presents a deterministic protocol for wireless multi-hop networks with time-critical behavior. The protocol is referred to as Arbitrating and Cooperative Transfer Protocol (ACTP), and is an instance of a binary countdown protocol. It enables the reliable transfer of bit sequences of adjustable length and deterministically resolves contest among nodes based on a flexible priority assignment, with constant delays, and within configurable arbitration radii. The protocol’s key requirement is the collision-resistant encoding of bits, which is achieved by the incorporation of black bursts. Besides revisiting black bursts and proposing measures to optimize their detection, robustness, and implementation on wireless sensor nodes, the first part of this thesis presents the mode of operation and time behavior of ACTP. In addition, possible applications of ACTP are illustrated, presenting solutions to well-known problems of distributed systems like leader election and data dissemination. Furthermore, results of experimental evaluations with customary wireless transceivers are outlined to provide evidence of the protocol’s implementability and benefits. In the second part of this thesis, the focus is shifted from concrete deterministic protocols to their model-driven development with the Specification and Description Language (SDL). Though SDL is well-established in the domain of telecommunication and distributed systems, the predictability of its implementations is often insufficient as previous projects have shown. To increase this predictability and to improve SDL’s applicability to time-critical systems, real-time tasks, an approved concept in the design of real-time systems, are transferred to SDL and extended to cover node-spanning system tasks. In this regard, a priority-based execution and suspension model is introduced in SDL, which enables task-specific priority assignments in the SDL specification that are orthogonal to the static structure of SDL systems and control transition execution orders on design as well as on implementation level. Both the formal incorporation of real-time tasks into SDL and their implementation in a novel scheduling strategy are discussed in this context. By means of evaluations on wireless sensor nodes, evidence is provided that these extensions reduce worst-case execution times substantially, and improve the predictability of SDL implementations and the language’s applicability to real-time systems.
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