2012, pp 159-176

You Can’t Get There from Here! Large Problems and Potential Solutions in Developing New Classes of Complex Computer Systems

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Abstract

The explosion of capabilities and new products within the sphere of Information Technology (IT) has fostered widespread, overly optimistic opinions regarding the industry, based on common but unjustified assumptions of quality and correctness of software. These assumptions are encouraged by software producers and vendors, who at this late date have not succeeded in finding a way to overcome the lack of an automated, mathematically sound way to develop correct systems from requirements. NASA faces this dilemma as it envisages advanced mission concepts that involve large swarms of small spacecraft that will engage cooperatively to achieve science goals. Such missions entail levels of complexity that beg for new methods for system development far beyond today’s methods, which are inadequate for ensuring correct behavior of large numbers of interacting intelligent mission elements. New system development techniques recently devised through NASA-led research will offer some innovative approaches to achieving correctness in complex system development, including autonomous swarm missions that exhibit emergent behavior, as well as general software products created by the computing industry.