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­ta Work to Safeguard Cyber-Physical Systems Made With Legacy Subsystems

By ­T Arlington News Center

November 17, 2015

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An increasingly large number of everyday objects incorporate cyber-physical systems, in which computers control physical mechanisms, such as in most cars and aircraft. However, many of these systems are regularly iterated upon, and reusing cyber-physical elements from an older version that may not have the same physical characteristics can cause problems.

"When we control the physical world through software, the system developers frequently make implicit assumptions about the physical environment that the software will operate within," says University of Texas at Arlington professor Taylor T. Johnson. "Because we've made assumptions about the physical world in the cyber domain, there is a possibility of reusing a component from one version to the next in ways that violate these implicit physical assumptions."

Johnson recently received a $397,907 U.S. Air Force grant to develop formal methods for automatically identifying these so-called cyber-physical system mismatches, enabling safe upgrades.

"This research will determine how to inform the software of differences in physical specifications, using, in-part, physical environment information as input," Johnson says. "On a given system, we want to infer the software's implicitly encoded assumptions about the physical world and ensure these match with the actual physical requirements."

From UT Arlington News Center
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