Towards formal specification of a distributed computing system

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Abstract

Onboard spacecraft computing system is a case of a functionally distributed system that requires continuous interaction among the nodes to control the operations at different nodes. A simple and reliable protocol is desired for such an application. This paper discusses a formal approach to specify the computing system with respect to some important issues encountered in the design and development of a protocol for the onboard distributed system. The issues considered in this paper are concurrency, exclusiveness and sequencing relationships among the various processes at different nodes. A 6-tuple model is developed for the precise specification of the system. The model also enables us to check the consistency of specification and deadlock caused due to improper specification. An example is given to illustrate the use of the proposed methodology for a typical spacecraft configuration. Although the theory is motivated by a specific application the same may be applied to other distributed computing system such as those encountered in process control industries, power plant control and other similar environments.