The Role of Ontologies in Emergent Middleware: Supporting Interoperability in Complex Distributed Systems

  • Gordon S. Blair
  • Amel Bennaceur
  • Nikolaos Georgantas
  • Paul Grace
  • Valérie Issarny
  • Vatsala Nundloll
  • Massimo Paolucci
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 7049)


Interoperability is a fundamental problem in distributed systems, and an increasingly difficult problem given the level of heterogeneity and dynamism exhibited by contemporary systems. While progress has been made, we argue that complexity is now at a level such that existing approaches are inadequate and that a major re-think is required to identify principles and associated techniques to achieve this central property of distributed systems. In this paper, we postulate that emergent middleware is the right way forward; emergent middleware is a dynamically generated distributed system infrastructure for the current operating environment and context. In particular, we focus on the key role of ontologies in supporting this process and in providing underlying meaning and associated reasoning capabilities to allow the right run-time choices to be made. The paper presents the Connect middleware architecture as an example of emergent middleware and highlights the role of ontologies as a cross-cutting concern throughout this architecture. Two experiments are described as initial evidence of the potential role of ontologies in middleware. Important remaining challenges are also documented.


interoperability ontologies emergent middleware system-of- systems 


  1. 1.
    Maier, M.W.: Architecting Principles for System of Systems. Systems Engineering 1(4), 267–284 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Van Steen, M., Tanenbaum, A.: Distributed Systems: Principles and Paradigms. Prentice-Hall (2001)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bennaceur, A., Blair, G., Chauvel, F., Huang, G., Georgantas, N., Grace, P., Howar, F., Inverardi, P., Issarny, V., Paolucci, M., Pathak, A., Spalazzese, R., Steffen, B., Souville, B.: Towards an Architecture for Runtime Interoperability. In: Margaria, T., Steffen, B. (eds.) ISoLA 2010. LNCS, vol. 6416, pp. 206–220. Springer, Heidelberg (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Autili, M., Chilton, C., Inverardi, P., Kwiatkowska, M., Tivoli, M.: Towards a Connector Algebra. In: Margaria, T., Steffen, B. (eds.) ISoLA 2010. LNCS, vol. 6416, pp. 278–292. Springer, Heidelberg (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Saltzer, H., Reed, D.P., Clark, D.D.: End-to-end arguments in system design. ACM Trans. Comput. Syst. 2(4), 277–288 (1984)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Object Management Group, COM/CORBA Interworking Spec. Part A & B (1997)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Nundloll, V., Grace, P., Blair, G.S.: The Role of Ontologies in Enabling Dynamic Interoperability. In: Felber, P., Rouvoy, R. (eds.) DAIS 2011. LNCS, vol. 6723, pp. 179–193. Springer, Heidelberg (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Bromberg, Y.-D., Issarny, V.: INDISS: Interoperable Discovery System for Networked Services. In: Alonso, G. (ed.) Middleware 2005. LNCS, vol. 3790, pp. 164–183. Springer, Heidelberg (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Nakazawa, J., Tokuda, H., Edwards, W., Ramachandran, U.: A Bridging Framework for Universal Interoperability in Pervasive Systems. In: Proceedings of 26th IEEE International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems (ICDCS 2006), Lisbon, Portuga (2006)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Cortes, C., Grace, P., Blair, G.: SeDiM: A Middleware Framework for Interoperable Service Discovery in Heterogeneous Networks. ACM Transactions on Autonomous and Adaptive Systems 6(1), Article 6:1-8 (2011)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Grace, P., Blair, G., Samuel, S.: A Reflective Framework for Discovery and Interaction in Heterogeneous Mobile Environments. ACM SIGMOBILE Mobile Computing and Communications Review 9(1), 2–14 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Duftler, M., Mukhi, N., Slominski, S., Weerawarana, S.: Web Services Invocation Framework (WSIF). In: Proceedings of OOPSLA 2001 Workshop on Object Oriented Web Services, Tampa, Florida (2001)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Masuoka, R., Parsia, B., Labrou, Y.: Task Computing – The Semantic Web Meets Pervasive Computing. In: Fensel, D., Sycara, K., Mylopoulos, J. (eds.) ISWC 2003. LNCS, vol. 2870, pp. 866–881. Springer, Heidelberg (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Singh, S., Puradkar, S., Lee, Y.: Ubiquitous Computing: Connecting Pervasive Computing Through Semantic Web. Information Systems and e-Business Management Journal (2005)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Ben Mokhtar, S., Preuveneers, D., Georgantas, N., Issarny, V., Berbers, Y.: EASY: Efficient SemAntic Service Discovery in Pervasive Computing Environments with QoS and Context Support. Journal of Systems and Software 8(5), 785–808 (2008)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Bromberg, Y., Grace, P., Reveillere, L.: Starlink: runtime intereoperability between heterogeneous middleware protocols. In: Proceedings of the 31st IEEE International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems, Minneapolis, USA (June 2011)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Martin, D., Burstein, M., Mcdermott, D., Mcilraith, S., Paolucci, M., Sycara, K., Mcguinness, D.L., Sirin, E., Srinivasan, N.: Bringing semantics to web services with OWL-S. World Wide Web Journal 10, 243–277 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Athanasopoulos, D., Zarras, A.: Fine-Grained Metrics of Cohesion Lack for Service Interfaces. In: Proc. of ICWS 2011 (to appear, 2011)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Bennaceur, A., Johansson, R., Moschitti, A., Spalazzese, R., Sykes, D., Saadi, R., Issarny, V.: Inferring affordances using learning techniques. In: International Workshop on Eternal Systems, EternalS 2011 (2011)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Mokhtar, S.B., Raverdy, P.-G., Urbieta, A., Cardoso, R.S.: Interoperable semantic and syntactic service discovery for ambient computing environments. IJACI 2(4), 13–32 (2010)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Straccia, U.: A Fuzzy Description Logic for the Semantic Web. In: Sanchez, E. (ed.) Fuzzy Logic and the Semantic Web, Capturing Intelligence, ch. 4, pp. 73–90. Elsevier (2006)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Heß, A., Kushmerick, N.: Learning to Attach Semantic Metadata to Web Services. In: Fensel, D., Sycara, K., Mylopoulos, J. (eds.) ISWC 2003. LNCS, vol. 2870, pp. 258–273. Springer, Heidelberg (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Krka, I., Brun, Y., Popescu, D., Garcia, J., Medvidovic, N.: Using dynamic execution traces and program invariants to enhance behavioral model inference. In: ICSE (2), pp. 179–182 (2010)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Bertolino, A., Inverardi, P., Pelliccione, P., Tivoli, M.: Automatic synthesis of behavior protocols for composable web-services. In: ESEC/SIGSOFT FSE, pp. 141–150 (2009)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Caporuscio, M., Raverdy, P.-G., Moungla, H., Issarny, V.: Ubisoap: A service oriented middleware for seamless networking. In: ICSOC, pp. 195–209 (2008)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Baader, F., Calvanese, D., McGuinness, D.L., Nardi, D., Patel-Schneider, P.F.: The Description Logic Handbook. Cambridge University Press (2003)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Merten, M., Steffen, B., Howar, F., Margaria, T.: Next Generation LearnLib. In: Abdulla, P.A., Leino, K.R.M. (eds.) TACAS 2011. LNCS, vol. 6605, pp. 220–223. Springer, Heidelberg (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Issarny, V., Bennaceur, A., Bromberg, Y.-D.: Middleware-Layer Connector Synthesis: Beyond State of the Art in Middleware Interoperability. In: Bernardo, M., Issarny, V. (eds.) SFM 2011. LNCS, vol. 6659, pp. 217–255. Springer, Heidelberg (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Drummond, N., Rector, A.L., Stevens, R., Moulton, G., Horridge, M., Wang, H., Seidenberg, J.: Putting OWL in order: Patterns for sequences in OWL. In: OWLED (2006)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Vaculin, R., Sycara, K.P.: Towards automatic mediation of OWL-S process models. In: Proceedings of ICWS (2007)Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Williams, S.K., Battle, S.A., Cuadrado, J.E.: Protocol Mediation for Adaptation in Semantic Web Services. In: Sure, Y., Domingue, J. (eds.) ESWC 2006. LNCS, vol. 4011, pp. 635–649. Springer, Heidelberg (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Clarke Jr., E.M., Grumberg, O., Peled, D.A.: Model Checking. The MIT Press (1999)Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Howar, F., Jonsson, B., Merten, M., Steffen, B., Cassel, S.: On Handling Data in Automata Learning - Considerations from the Connect Perspective. In: Margaria, T., Steffen, B. (eds.) ISoLA 2010, Part II. LNCS, vol. 6416, pp. 221–235. Springer, Heidelberg (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Zhang, M., Wolf, R.: Border Node Based Routing Protocol for VANETs in Sparse and Rural Areas. In: IEEE Globecom Autonet Workshop, Washington, pp. 1–7 (November 2007)Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Durresi, M., Durresi, A., Barolli, L.: Emergency Broadcast Protocol for Inter-Vehicle Communications. In: Proc. 11th International ICPADS Conference Workshops, pp. 402–406 (2005)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gordon S. Blair
    • 1
  • Amel Bennaceur
    • 2
  • Nikolaos Georgantas
    • 2
  • Paul Grace
    • 1
  • Valérie Issarny
    • 2
  • Vatsala Nundloll
    • 1
  • Massimo Paolucci
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Computing and CommunicationsLancaster UniversityUK
  2. 2.INRIA, CRI Paris-RocquencourtFrance
  3. 3.DOCOMO Euro-LabsMunichGermany

Personalised recommendations