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Embedded, Everywhere: A Research Agenda for Networked Systems of Embedded Computers 6 Conclusions and Recommendations: An Agenda for Research EmNets will be embedded everywhere, from automotive instrumentation to precision agriculture to battlefield surveillance. They raise fundamental research challenges in part because they will be performing critical functions and also because they are inherently distributed and tightly coupled to the physical world through sensors and actuators. Moreover, while they are rich in the numbers of elements, they are at the same time highly resource constrained in the capability of the individual elements. This chapter builds on the findings and discussions in Chapters 2 to 5 to specify particular research projects and processes that will be necessary to realize the vision articulated throughout this report. As outlined in this report, EmNets present a number of research challenges that need to be addressed. An important message for the research enterprise is that new approaches to the study of systems rather than components must be developed as a deeper understanding of the emergent properties of many interconnected elements is gained. To attain this goal, research will need to become more interdisciplinary than ever before as practitioners learn to design, deploy, and—hopefully—trust these large-scale information systems. The need to approach the challenges presented by EmNets from a systems-oriented, interdisciplinary perspective stands out among the many technological problems delineated elsewhere in this report. Failure to meet this need would be the most serious impediment to realizing the full potential of EmNets in society.1,2 1 A thorough discussion of the systems imperative, of the growing argument for interdisciplinary research, and of related issues for the broader IT community can be found in Making IT Better (CSTB, 2000).
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Embedded, Everywhere: A Research Agenda for Networked Systems of Embedded Computers The growing complexity of information technology systems will be accentuated by the evolution of EmNets. This complexity arises not only from the large number of components involved but also from the lack of determinism and the continual evolution such systems will undergo. Effort on the part of the whole community (industry and academia, as well as funding agencies) is necessary. While there are specific EmNet applications emerging from industry, they do not encompass the kinds of scalable, robust, physically coupled EmNets that are discussed throughout this report. In the absence of appropriate funding, issues such as adaptive self-configuration, predictability, and computational models will not be addressed in ways that will enable comprehensive understanding. This lack of understanding will result in a technology that is both prohibitively expensive and prohibitively brittle and will preclude the widespread adoption of EmNets as envisioned here. The Internet has provided one of the first real examples of a large-scale, heterogeneous networked system. It serves as an excellent model for observation and provides some early indicators of the issues arising from the widespread deployment of EmNets that will need to be addressed.3 The Internet consists of millions of loosely interconnected components that generate communications traffic independently of one another. There has been standardization in the middle levels of communication protocols, but a wide variety of physical interconnections, from optical broadband to wireless, is supported. However, from the casual user’s perspective, the degree of interoperability has essentially been limited to what can be done through a Web browser. For the most part, the currency of the Internet has been in the realm of information. The connections between today’s various information services are only now starting to evolve into multilayered and richly connected ensembles.4 Connections to the physical world have been limited to basic sensors (for example, cameras and weather sensors) and very few actuators (for example, camera motors and home remote control). As noted throughout this report, EmNets will build on the Internet 2 EmNets provide an excellent illustration of how computer science can benefit from interactions with sister engineering fields, which have long addressed conventional embedded systems. 3 For a discussion of Internet-specific issues, see the CSTB report The Internet’s Coming of Age (CSTB, 2001). 4 The automated shopping agents that query multiple vendors for the best price on a requested item exemplify this. They integrate information in different formats to yield an easy to understand comparison. Automatic purchasing systems are now being built on top of these basic services to trigger automatic purchases that will keep inventory at the specified levels.
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Embedded, Everywhere: A Research Agenda for Networked Systems of Embedded Computers experience (itself a product of significant federal research investment) but will also extend it in new directions. The physical world will be coupled to the information space. Sensors and actuators will be spread throughout the everyday environment. People’s activities will be recorded and affected by computing systems in virtually all spheres of life. The heterogeneity of the devices that will be interconnected will increase dramatically. From a world of PCs and servers, IT will move to smart dust,5 swallowable health monitors, and automated buildings. This move will require a much deeper understanding of how to build into EmNets the challenging properties of scalability and robustness. In this chapter, several overarching research themes are described that draw on the discussions developed throughout the report. Following the description of these themes is a discussion of what will be required of the industrial and academic research enterprises in order to make progress on the substantive research recommendations made in this chapter and throughout the report. In addition, specific recommendations are made to federal funding agencies that, if followed, would facilitate progress in this area. AN EMNET-SPECIFIC RESEARCH AGENDA The committee has found eight key areas in which concerted research efforts are needed: predictability and manageability; adaptive self-configuration; monitoring and system health; computational models; network geometry; interoperability; the integration of technical, social, ethical, and public policy issues; and enabling technologies. This research will need to be very broad and very deep and so is unlikely to be achieved through industry efforts alone. Key to developing the research in these areas is the parallel pursuit of the major thrusts described in this report (see Chapters 2 to 5) and the integration of research across the various topics as necessary. Achieving progress in such a research agenda will require forward-thinking, visionary leadership and the willingness to invest in long-term research programs without requiring premature checkpoints or demonstrations and without a priori agreements on specific architecture, so as to allow room for reasonable exploration of the design space. This section draws on the analysis contained in earlier chapters of the report to identify eight areas that should be part of such a research agenda. 5 The goal of the DARPA-funded smart dust project at the University of California at Berkeley is to integrate sensor and communication systems into a package that is roughly the size of a cubic millimeter.
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Embedded, Everywhere: A Research Agenda for Networked Systems of Embedded Computers These areas fall into three categories: (1) research that is needed to build robust and scalable EmNets, (2) research on social, ethical, and policy issues that result from the deployment of EmNets; and (3) research on component technologies that is unlikely to be addressed by the general IT research community. It should be noted that networking is an implicit theme pervading most of these areas and so does not stand apart as a separate research issue. The success of networked systems of embedded computers will depend heavily on the networking research community and work going on there, including the work highlighted in Chapters 2 and 3. Progress in EmNets is not possible without progress in networking. The research issues raised by EmNets constitute a theme around which new networking research programs can be structured. Similarly, issues of usability and manageability arise throughout this discussion. The human element in complex, not-well-understood systems is critical at all levels, including design, programming, deployment, control, manipulation, and interaction. Human-centered approaches must therefore be incorporated into all of the research areas discussed below. Predictability and Manageability: Methodologies and Mechanisms for Designing Predictable, Safe, Reliable, Manageable EmNets Designing for predictability in EmNets requires new methodologies and design strategies that will support characterizable, understandable, and manageable systems. These systems need to allow for isolation of systems components and analysis of the interactions that take place within an EmNet that is exploiting massive amounts of interconnection. At the same time, methodologies are needed for presenting system behavior (including behavior that emerges throughout the lifetime of the system) to end users and system managers; these methodologies must transmit the correct information at the correct abstraction level. Users of EmNets may be experts at the task their computing system is helping them accomplish, but they should not need to know a lot about how the computing system is doing it. They need to be able to make certain basic inferences about what they can expect of their EmNet in order to make good, safe use of it. It is likely that EmNets will radically alter the definition of a system. Instead of simply designing all the individual components of a system and their interactions specifically for a particular system function, people will be fielding components that provide basic capabilities. A “system” will mean exploiting the capabilities of those basic components in a new way by marshalling the capabilities of what is already deployed, altering
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Embedded, Everywhere: A Research Agenda for Networked Systems of Embedded Computers their function, or adding new elements. Pieces of a system deployed for one purpose may be utilized for other purposes not originally planned. Moreover, continually changing or adding new elements to the mix will cause new, unintended behaviors to emerge. The Internet is providing some early examples of this: When new services are deployed, their increasing use may cause congestion and a decline in service quality at some points in the network. Once the network is embedded everywhere, every new deployment will probably trigger adjustments and possible detrimental effects on service only because it causes some contention for common scarce resources. Such behavior should occur in an understandable and reasonably predictable fashion. If something has broken, or even worse, is about to break,6 how should the EmNet inform its users? EmNets must have interfaces that let users who are not professional system administrators wield them effectively, through normal as well as abnormal conditions such as partial system failures. Sets of abstractions should be developed that have meaning within the computing system itself yet still conform to users’ conceptions of the tasks they need to accomplish. EmNets have the same human computer interface problems as existing systems, exacerbated by the other, nontraditional aspects of EmNets, including users who are inexperienced with the intricacies of EmNets, real-time interactions with the physical world, long-lived systems that build user trust at the same time as their internal safety margins may be decreasing, and enormous overall system complexity. Adaptive Self-configuration: Techniques to Allow Adaptive Self-configuration of EmNets to Respond to Volatile Environmental Conditions and System Resources in an Ongoing Dynamic Balance EmNets will need to exhibit adaptive self-configuration in order to be viable. The massive numbers of elements, along with the resource constraints on individual elements and the environmental dynamics in which they will need to operate, combine to create a new and likely pervasive requirement for adaptive systemwide behavior that is unparalleled except perhaps in natural systems. The number of elements, resource constraints, and dynamics imply that systems cannot rely on a priori system design or manual adjustment. The system elements cannot simply be 6 If the system is obviously broken, users will know not to rely on it and will go about trying to get it repaired. If users do not know that all redundancy has been used up and the system is on the edge of disaster, they may believe that the system is as trustworthy as it ever was and unwittingly take unwarranted risks.
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Embedded, Everywhere: A Research Agenda for Networked Systems of Embedded Computers configured to operate under worst case assumptions, because doing so would make them orders of magnitude less efficient and, in many cases, unable to meet system lifetime requirements. Moreover, EmNets cannot be dynamically configured centrally using global information because acquiring the global information consumes significant amounts of energy and is not scalable. Further, some of the adaptation will need to be done in a very short time frame, one that requires that processing of input and action be completed as quickly as possible to meet the real-time requirements of the application. The current state of the art with respect to adaptation and configuration is exemplified in Internet protocols. These protocols are somewhat self-configuring and adaptive. However, they have not had to cope with intense input/output, environmental dynamics, and tight energy constraints as a primary design issue. EmNets will require the development of new distributed algorithms and techniques for provable distributed control. They will also require system models and characterizable behavior in order to support embedded systems with strict time constraints (latency, in particular). EmNets will need to provide rich interfaces to the application designers as well. For example, a truly scalable sensor network must self-configure so that the correct collection of nodes (those that have collected good signals from stimuli) collaborates in signal processing to detect and identify phenomena of interest inside the network. The particular sets of nodes that should participate cannot be determined a priori. Such a determination clearly depends not only on the nature of the application but also—and even more so—on the nature of the object(s) being monitored and the signals received by the nodes. EmNets will require nodes and their system interactions to be designed so that applications can influence the parameters and rules according to which nodes adaptively self-configure. Monitoring and System Health: A Complete Conceptual Framework to Help Achieve Robust Operation Through Self-monitoring, Continuous Self-testing, and Reporting of System Health in the Face of Extreme Constraints on Nodes and Elements of the System The mission-readiness requirements of EmNets will vary from one EmNet to another, but all will require a minimal amount of overall computational horsepower, a certain amount of interconnection bandwidth and latency, and some minimum amount of sensing and perhaps actuation. With current technology, this mission readiness will be evaluated by having the system perform periodic self-checks on all of those dimensions, with some kind of overall health indicated to the system user or administrator.
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Embedded, Everywhere: A Research Agenda for Networked Systems of Embedded Computers EmNets will change over time both in the numbers and kinds of their components and in the applications they are designed to perform. Current notions of system health, which tend to be based on the health of the individual components, do not extend to such systems, where no single component may be critical for the system to perform its intended function as long as the system can adapt to the current conditions. How such health, which is tied to the overall mission of the system rather than the function of the parts, can be defined and monitored by the system itself will be an important area of investigation. A critical challenge is that this system monitoring must be done in the face of resource constraints. For example, pulling system health information out of the system may consume valuable, unreplenishable energy. Just as the system may need to aggregate information about its function inside the network, it may need to aggregate information about its health. Designing and constructing large systems of many heterogeneous components is already an extremely complex task. The added constraints of EmNets make it even more so. It may be possible to turn to fields such as economics, biology, and statistics for new tools to tackle this growing complexity.7 New approaches need to be developed for self-monitoring, self-testing, reconfiguration, and adaptation, as discussed in Chapters 3 and 4. Systems will have to be built with self-monitoring and self-regulating devices. Statistical approaches will be needed to properly detect situations requiring attention. Immune systems will need to be developed to counteract the unintended (or intended) effects of new deployments. Because of the interactions with other requirements of the system, the conceptual framework for robust operation, adaptation, and self-testing cannot stand on its own. It must be part of a large conceptual model that takes into account the other features, requirements, and restrictions of the system, as discussed in Chapter 5. Research needs to be done not only on how to monitor and express this notion of system health, but also on the trade-offs that are possible between these requirements and the other requirements of the system. Computational Models: New Abstractions and Computational Models for Designing, Analyzing, and Describing the Collective Behavior and Information Organization of Massive EmNets Systems as complicated as EmNets will present enormous challenges for the analysis of behavior and performance. Existing tools and concepts 7 Various efforts to study complexity already reach out to a wide variety of disciplines. See, for example, the work of the Santa Fe Institute at <http://www.santafe.edu/>.
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Embedded, Everywhere: A Research Agenda for Networked Systems of Embedded Computers are barely adequate for understanding simple multiprocessor systems with four CPUs. They are clearly inadequate for systems with many thousands of physically coupled, long-lived, adaptable, self-configuring, interacting nodes. Moreover, defining the right model to handle these many components is not sufficient; the model needs to ensure that it is possible to reason about and understand the interactions of the various parts of the model so that appropriate trade-offs can be made, when necessary, in the design of the entire system. In particular, in order to take better advantage of the many potential uses and impacts of EmNets, abstractions are needed for designing interactions with the physical world. Sensors and actuators will often play a key role in such systems. Moreover, new abstractions are needed for designing systems that make use of massive redundancy in order to deal with the extraneous data and uncertainty of the physical world. Unknown at this point is what building blocks will be used in EmNet environments that will play the seminal role that transactions and remote procedure call (RPC) played in more traditional systems. Defining appropriate data structures, process interactions, and APIs will require a substantial research effort, one that iterates between experimentation, concept development, and theory building. The development of new abstractions for reasoning about collective behavior will be one of the biggest contributions of EmNets research (see Chapter 5). Both humans and the artifacts they design will require these abstractions to reason about and adapt to the new situations that will emerge when interesting new mixes of devices and services are created. Abstraction is one of the most powerful tools that mathematics and engineering have brought to the scientific enterprise. Each technological era has associated key abstractions. New eras bring new abstractions and vice versa. It is now time, as the era of EmNets commences, to begin the development of its principal abstractions. Network Geometry: Ways to Support and Incorporate Network Geometry (As Opposed to Just Network Topology) into EmNets In many traditional systems, the geographic location of a particular node is not important; instead, what matters is the abstract network topology. The fact that EmNets are coupled to the physical world requires understanding how to generate and use other forms of location information, such as three-space coordinates or logical coordinates associated with a building structure, for example. Such information can be both an important attribute of application-level data and a significant organizational principle for the system itself. When organizing information at the application level, knowing which nodes are in close physical proximity to
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Embedded, Everywhere: A Research Agenda for Networked Systems of Embedded Computers other nodes can be very helpful. For example, location information could be useful in determining coverage of a particular physical area. At the system level, such information can be used when trying to achieve efficient system behavior. For example, a node might be interested in determining the closest repository for storing long-term data. In such a case, close physical proximity is desirable in order to reduce resource expenditures. Location information is useful in another way as well: Using three-space information in combination with static environmental information allows the creation of logical location information that takes into account the surrounding environment. As discussed in Chapters 2 and 5, global positioning system (GPS) technology is not sufficient for all of the network geometry needs of EmNets. GPS is a good model for the services needed in many outdoor, three-space-oriented systems but not necessarily for EmNets that are indoors, on the battlefield, or in other remote locations. Moreover, GPS is not ideal for networks whose nodes are small. New kinds of systems are needed that are not constrained in the way GPS systems are. Research into systems that can take into account the logical structure of the geographical environment—for example, walls separating offices, the location of doors, or the inside of a vehicle—is also essential. Interoperability: Techniques and Design Methods for Constructing Long-lived, Heterogeneous Systems That Evolve over Time and Space While Remaining Interoperable EmNets will often be embedded in long-lived physical structures (homes, office buildings, hospitals, wells, aqueducts, airplanes, roads, and so on) and thus must be long-lived themselves in order to be effective. To be long-lived, EmNets must be able to evolve, as it is very likely that the functionality required of them will change in some way, perhaps to something for which they were not originally designed. Further, heterogeneous EmNet components will have to interoperate with each other, as well as with various external devices to which they will connect. Achieving such interoperability over the lifetime of the EmNet and over the changing space in which the EmNet will be operating is an open research challenge. As discussed throughout the report, existing techniques and strategies for interoperability are not yet up to the many challenges posed by EmNets. EmNets will typically operate in an unattended mode, wherein many actions must be taken without human intervention. Aspects of the environment may change, and elements may be moving into and out of the system in unanticipated ways without user assistance. Moreover, while day-to-day operations will need to occur autonomously, the system itself
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Embedded, Everywhere: A Research Agenda for Networked Systems of Embedded Computers may also have to evolve without human direction. Thus, both the normal operation as well as the system evolution of the EmNet need to be self-configuring. In addition, the operational details of EmNets are often hidden from casual users, and thus the evolution of the system needs to occur as transparently as possible so as not to be obtrusive. The field of EmNets is developing rapidly but in an uncoordinated fashion. Because they were so badly needed, a number of EmNets have already been designed, built, and deployed, and many of them have come to us from fields other than computer science, such as aeronautics and systems engineering. If EmNets are not to risk becoming obsolete before they are deployed, system evolution and integration standards cannot really start from scratch but must allow the integration and evolution of existing legacy systems. Accordingly, a research program is needed that will actively challenge EmNet research projects by requiring the integration of unanticipated elements into the research. These unanticipated elements might take the form of new devices, either tethered or mobile, or even legacy systems that could be of use to the overall system. The real aim of this requirement is to ensure that the framework developed for the EmNet is flexible enough to deal with new elements and new requirements. Left to their own schedules, researchers will design for what they foresee the future to be; it is important that this research describe ways to deal with a future that cannot be foreseen. Integration of Technical, Social, Ethical, and Public Policy Issues: Fundamental Research into the Nontechnical Issues of EmNets, Especially Those Having to Do with the Ethical and Public Policy Issues Surrounding Privacy, Security, Reliability, Usability, and Safety EmNets are capable of collecting, processing, and aggregating huge amounts of data. With the advent of large numbers of EmNets, the technological stage is set for unprecedented levels of real-time human monitoring. The sensors are cheap and unobtrusive, the computing and communications costs are very low, and there will be organizations with the resources and the motivation to deploy these systems. Thus, EmNets present a difficult challenge in terms of passive information disclosure. In the case of the Internet, privacy issues arise because as users browse for particular kinds of information they are often asked to divulge explicitly other kinds of information, or their clickstreams through and among sites produce information that sites may be storing without the user’s informed consent. In the case of EmNets, inadvertent, even unintentional revelations are much more likely. The monitoring these systems do will be
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Embedded, Everywhere: A Research Agenda for Networked Systems of Embedded Computers almost completely undetectable. The temptation to use such systems for law enforcement, productivity monitoring, consumer profiling, or in the name of safeguarding children from harm will be enormous. At the same time, we have already seen effects of information moving quickly around the Internet (for example, false rumors have had dramatic effects on the stock markets (Walsh, 2000)). EmNets as they have been described here have the potential for even greater and more far-reaching effects. With respect to security, history has shown that computer systems will be attacked. Data will be stolen or compromised, system functionality and/or availability will be impaired, and the attacks will be incessant. EmNets will be very much at risk for such attacks, since they are deployed specifically to collect important information about the real world and may be capable of acting on it. The security facilities of, say, the Internet, are obviously inadequate. EmNets require much better resistance to malicious intrusions and much better means for detecting and reporting such attempts. These issues are not merely technical, however, and will need to be addressed at a procedural and public policy level as well. The committee believes that purely technical approaches will be insufficient and that policy and technical aspects should be coordinated in order to address these problems. Privacy, security, and ethical considerations need to be considered and incorporated early, during the design and development phases of these systems. These are areas in which inter-and multidisciplinary research efforts could pay large dividends. The committee believes that the ethical concerns related to security and privacy—which drive legal and policy activity—require a fundamental research agenda. Some of that research will relate to technical mechanisms that can help to ensure authenticated use and proper accountability while safeguarding privacy. But, perhaps more importantly, it may be necessary to develop a new calculus of privacy to be able to evaluate how interactions between new elements will impinge on security and privacy. Users will need ways of comprehending how the aggregation of the information they are divulging to disparate sources can compromise their privacy (e.g., connecting automobile sensor logs to location sensing), and they will need to move beyond concerning themselves only with the security of a Web site’s credit card files. While this report’s primary focus has been on a technological research agenda, the committee strongly recommends also examining the policy and social implications of EmNets and other kinds of information systems. How can the development of policy and technical mechanisms be coordinated to encourage realizing potential benefits from EmNets without paying avoidable societal costs? Research that relates technical, social, and policy issues is consistent with the Social, Economic, and Workforce (SEW) component of the federal Information Technology
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Embedded, Everywhere: A Research Agenda for Networked Systems of Embedded Computers BOX 6.3 A Sampling of Current and Recent EmNet-related Projects of DARPA’s Information Technology Office Networked Embedded Software Technology (NEST) In this project, DARPA is seeking novel approaches to the design and implementation of software for networked embedded systems. The coordinated operation of distributed embedded systems makes embedding, distribution, and coordination the fundamental technical challenge for embedded software. The goal of the NEST program is to enable fine-grained fusion of physical and information processes. Sensor Information Technology (SensIT) The goal of the SensIT program is to create the binding between the physical world and cyberspace. SensIT is founded on the concept of a networked system of cheap, pervasive devices that combine multiple sensor types, reprogrammable processors, and wireless communication. Ubiquitous Computing The goal of the Ubiquitous Computing program is to create a post-PC era of computing in which a scarce resource—human attention—is conserved in an environment where computing functionality is embedded in physical devices that are widely distributed. In this environment, users do not interact with any particular computing device but rather with the functionality and services offered by the set of devices at hand. Recommendation 2. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency should encourage greater collaboration between its Information Technology Office (ITO) and its Microelectronics Technology Office (MTO) to enable greater experimentation. There is an opportunity to take advantage of collaborations between ITO and MTO by enabling experimental EmNet projects with real state-of-the-art sensors and even actuators. MTO-funded research has brought significant advances in MEMS technology, but that research has not yet emphasized the system-level aspects of MEMS. (See Box 6.4 for recent work in EmNet-related areas in DARPA’s MTO and its Advanced Tech-
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Embedded, Everywhere: A Research Agenda for Networked Systems of Embedded Computers Model-based Integration of Embedded Software The goal of this project is to create a new generation of system software that is highly customizable and responsive to the needs of various application domains and to the constraints of embedded systems. Power-aware Computing/Communication The goal of the Power-aware Computing/Communication project is to enable the intelligent management of energy and energy distribution, providing the minimum power necessary to complete a given task. Adaptive Computing Systems The Adaptive Computing Systems program was designed to create unprecedented capabilities for the dynamic adaptation of information systems to a changing environment. It explores redefining the traditional hardware/software boundary to enable the rapid realization of algorithm-specific hardware architectures on a low-cost COTS technology base. Embeddable Systems The Embeddable Systems program focuses on leveraging and extending the commercial scalable computing technology base to support defense embedded-computing applications. Software for Distributed Robotics The goal of this project is to develop software for the employment and control of large numbers of small, distributed, mobile robots in order to achieve large-scale results from many small-scale robots. nology Office (ATO).) The idea is to apply well-understood MEMS techniques to produce several types of sensor/actuators that can be integrated into EmNet prototypes by the research community and allow for more realistic experimentation with a range of physically coupled systems. These might take several forms. Examples include a chemical sensor that could be used in experimental monitoring systems, a computational fabric that has a mixture of pressure and temperature sensors, and tension-varying actuators that would enable experimenting with how to control EmNets of this type. The research community could define standard interfaces to these
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Embedded, Everywhere: A Research Agenda for Networked Systems of Embedded Computers BOX 6.4 A Sampling of Current and Recent EmNet-related Projects of DARPA’s Microelectronics Technology Office and Its Advanced Technology Office Distributed Robotics The DARPA Distributed Robotics program seeks to develop revolutionary approaches to extremely small robots, reconfigurable robots, systems of robots, biologically inspired designs, and innovative methods of robot control. The program focuses on individual robots that are less than 5 cm in any dimension. Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) The primary goal of the DARPA MEMS program is to develop the technology to merge sensing, actuating, and computing in order to realize new systems that bring enhanced levels of perception, control, and performance to weapons systems and battlefield environments. Microoptoelectromechanical Systems (MOEMS) The primary goal of the MOEMS program is to develop the technology to merge sensing, actuation, and computing in order to realize new systems that bring enhanced levels of perception, control, and performance to military and commercial systems. Smart Modules The Smart Modules program is developing and demonstrating novel ways of combining sensors, microprocessors, and communications in lightweight, low-power, modular packages that offer warfighters and small fighting units new methods to enhance their situational awareness and effectively control their resources on the battlefield. Future Combat Systems Communications The goal of this program is to produce communications technology for ad hoc networks that can operate under severe operational constraints, such as a hostile electromagnetic environment. These mobile networks will have both airborne and terrestrial platforms deployed in an autonomous fashion to provide needed coverage on an ad hoc basis. Global Mobile Information Systems (GloMo) The goal of the GloMo project was to make the environment a high priority in the defense information infrastructure, providing user-friendly connectivity and access to services for wireless mobile users.
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Embedded, Everywhere: A Research Agenda for Networked Systems of Embedded Computers devices and enable relatively inexpensive prototyping in a widespread manner. Such technologies would provide the academic research community, in particular, with the kinds of artifacts it will need to better explore applications of MEMS technology to EmNets and the system-level issues that result. Recommendations to the National Institute of Standards and Technology NIST, and in particular its Information Technology Lab, has worked in a variety of areas to help make information technology more secure, more reliable, more usable, and more interoperable. All of these characteristics are, as has been described, crucial to current and future EmNet-related technologies. NIST has played a valuable role in promoting standardization and acting as a verification agent (see Box 6.5 for information on EmNet-related NIST programs). In this role, NIST establishes trust in techniques and mechanisms by establishing testing and evaluation standards. Many applications and components of EmNets will require verification, and NIST is in an excellent position to act as arbiter between developer and user. NIST has already begun to play a role in wireless interference and associated power and frequency standardization. This effort will become even more critical as more wireless devices are deployed at greater densities.16 New applications of EmNets will call for entirely new metrics for evaluation (such as system lifetime and system manageability or instrumentation). A wide range of standardization efforts will be launched as an offshoot of EmNet activities, including sensor, actuator, wireless, and cross-system interactions. NIST is in an excellent position to foster interaction by devising the appropriate metrics for measuring the effectiveness of EmNet elements as well as the requirements for performance and quality of service for the more abstract services that will be built upon those elements. In addition to metrics, NIST can also act as a collector of and repository for experimental data. There is a growing gap in access to critical evaluation data. This is already evidenced in the case of the Internet. Unlike in the early days of computing, when most researchers could manage to measure the performance of their own computing equipment, today a national- or even a global-scale infrastructure is required for collecting data-traffic information. Such an infrastructure is accessible to only a very few large 16 It should be noted that the Federal Communications Commission also plays an important role in this area.
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Embedded, Everywhere: A Research Agenda for Networked Systems of Embedded Computers BOX 6.5 A Sampling of NIST’s EmNet-related Programs The NIST Smart Space Laboratory Smart spaces are work or home environments containing embedded computers, information appliances, and multimodal sensors. NIST’s goal is to address the measurement, standards, and interoperability challenges that must be met as tools for these environments evolve in industrial R&D laboratories worldwide. NIST is also working to develop industrial partnerships and is sponsoring workshops with DARPA and NSF in this area. Networking for Smart Spaces This project explores the use of Java, Jini, and multicast technology in conjunction with wireless systems such as Bluetooth and HomeRF as a networking foundation for pervasive computing or smart spaces. The Aroma Project The goals of the Aroma project are to help research, test, measure, and standardize pervasive computing technology by, among other things, measuring the resource requirements and performance of emerging pervasive computing software and networking technologies; developing software tools for testing, measuring, and diagnosing pervasive software and networks; and creating standard abstractions and models for developers. companies. Expanding access to this data by more researchers is an important role for a government agency. The committee believes that NIST also has a particularly critical role to play in this realm as the agency that establishes confidence in information systems. NIST is seen as an outside observer that can provide objective services and analysis. It has an important role in the standards-development process, allowing the work done in industry to be illuminated in a fair and open fashion. As this report has emphasized, interoperability for EmNets will be very important, and standards will be needed for such interoperability. Given that many of the standards in this arena are likely to arrive as de facto rather than de jure standards, NIST can provide an objective analysis of them and reduce barriers to entry with reference implementations of the technology itself and/or reference implementations of conformance testing tools. More specifically, NIST, through activities such as its Aroma Project,17 which focuses on testing, 17 For more information, see <http://www.nist.gov/aroma/>.
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Embedded, Everywhere: A Research Agenda for Networked Systems of Embedded Computers measuring, and standardizing pervasive computing technology, should play a significant role in the two areas as EmNets become ever more widespread. Recommendation 3. The National Institute of Standards and Technology should develop and provide reference implementations in order to promote open standards for interconnectivity architectures. It will be important to promote open standards in the area and promote system development using commercial components by making public domain device drivers available. Recommendation 4. The National Institute of Standards and Technology should develop methodologies for testing and simulating EmNets in light of the diverse and dynamic conditions of deployment. Comprehensive simulation models and testing methodologies for EmNets will be necessary to ensure interoperable, reliable, and predictable systems. In particular, the development of methodologies for testing specification and interoperability conformance will be useful. In the process of these endeavors, NIST can play a key role in data collection and dissemination of EmNet-related information for use by the larger research and development community. Recommendations to the National Science Foundation The National Science Foundation (NSF) has a strong track record in promoting multidisciplinary research and integrated research and education programs. More recently, it has been increasing its support for integrated systems projects—for example, the Information Technology Research (ITR) program. All three areas—multidisciplinary research, integration of research and education, and integrated systems approaches—will be of great importance in the support of EmNet-related research projects, and all of them—in particular, systems-oriented work—should be aggressively pursued and include cross-divisional efforts where necessary. Specific recommendations for NSF are below. Recommendation 5. The National Science Foundation should continue to expand mechanisms for encouraging systems-oriented, multi-investigator, collaborative, multidisciplinary research on EmNets. NSF is funding work in several areas related to EmNets (see Box 6.6). Much of this work continues to be done by a single principal investigator (and graduate students) operating on a small budget. As noted in this
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Embedded, Everywhere: A Research Agenda for Networked Systems of Embedded Computers BOX 6.6 A Sampling of the National Science Foundation’s EmNet-related programs Scalable Information Infrastructure and Pervasive Computing NSF is supporting work in scalability, security, privacy, sensors and sensor networks, and tetherfree networking and communications in this program. Its goal is to advance the technical infrastructure to support human-to-human, human-to-computer, and computer-to-computer remote communication. Wireless Information Technology and Networks This program funds research to provide a foundation for designing high-information-capacity wireless communication systems for full mobility. Such design will require synergistic, multidisciplinary research efforts encompassing a breadth of communications functions from the physical through application layers. Electronics, Photonics, and Device Technologies This program funds research in the areas of micro- and nanoscale devices, components, and materials, advanced methods of design, modeling, and simulation of such devices and components, and improved techniques for processing, fabrication, and manufacturing. report, research on EmNets will require that such single investigator research be complemented by collaborative experimental research that brings together researchers from different disciplines to focus on a common problem. Had this report been written several years ago, it would have recommended that NSF move toward larger-scale, experimentally driven, risk-taking research. NSF’s ITR program appears to be doing just that. ITR also reinforces attention to the social and economic dimensions of information systems. This program, or others like it, could serve as a useful vehicle for pursuing some of the topics pinpointed in this report. The key to achieving successful multidisciplinary research is not just a matter of funding levels. A flexible process is required that can incorporate perspectives from a broad range of relevant disciplines. Recommendation 6. The National Science Foundation should develop programs that support graduate and undergraduate multidisciplinary educational programs.
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Embedded, Everywhere: A Research Agenda for Networked Systems of Embedded Computers With respect to education (see Box 6.1), NSF could take the lead in tackling institutional barriers to interdisciplinary and broad systems-based work. NSF has a history of encouraging interdisciplinary programs and could provide venues for such work to be explored (as is being done in the ITR programs) as well as foster and fund joint graduate programs or joint curriculum endeavors. One way to do this would be to provide incentives to programs that successfully cross disciplinary boundaries. For example, faculty working on interdisciplinary research often have difficulty securing institutional support for work deemed outside the scope of their home department. A program that removed this drawback by providing funding for such work could stimulate interdisciplinary research and course material in colleges and universities. Another way would be to expand the Graduate Fellowship Program to support more interdisciplinary proposals. Suitable evaluations of proposals would be needed to implement this recommendation. Recommendations to Other Federal Agencies The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) were two of the earliest innovators and adopters of EmNets. While NASA and DOE application domains can be quite specialized, two things are clear: The computer science community would benefit from hearing of and seeing this earlier (and contemporary) work, and NASA and DOE themselves would benefit from the more general pursuit of this technology by the broader computer science community. Both agencies have long histories in systems engineering as well as in computer science and so could serve as a useful bridge between various communities, especially regarding the development of EmNets. NASA, for example, has a strong interest in safety and reliability, and DOE has long been involved in reliability issues. Their expertise, when applicable, could be shared with others in related research areas; in addition, the two agencies would benefit from the generalizations that the broader research community could provide. More explicit cooperation and communication would be beneficial to everyone and would greatly advance the field. The agencies with needs for EmNets should together promote expanded experimental research with a shared, experimental systems infrastructure. The committee expects that coordination needs could be supported by the various organizations and groups associated with federal information technology research and development.18 Open-platform sys- 18 The National Coordination Office for Information Technology Research and Development and related groups can facilitate cross-agency coordination, for example.
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Embedded, Everywhere: A Research Agenda for Networked Systems of Embedded Computers tems of various scales, low-power components and the software drivers for these components, debugging techniques and software, traffic generators—all can be shared across research programs when applicable, avoiding inefficient redundancy in those parts of the system where there is more certainty. The research communities should combine their efforts in creating enabling components, such as a range of MEMS-based sensors and actuators that are packaged in such a way as to be easily integrated into experimental EmNet systems. This would enable experimentation with EmNets in environmental and biological monitoring applications, for example, that are relevant to a variety of agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, DOE, and NASA, as well as research groups working in these areas. Cross-collaboration and communication and the development of general enabling components will be essential for broad-ranging experimental work with EmNet systems. SUMMARY EmNets present exciting new challenges in information technology, posing fundamental research questions while being applicable to a broad range of problem domains and research disciplines. Unfortunately, progress in this area will probably be confined to domain- and application-specific systems unless a concerted, comprehensive effort is made to broaden and deepen the research endeavor. It is unlikely that such a broad-based, widely applicable research agenda will be undertaken by industry alone. While systems can be built individually, the accumulated understanding will be insufficient without fundamental work promoted and supported by federal funding agencies. The technology would also be much more expensive, only narrowly applicable, and far less extensible and robust. Long-term, forward-thinking, and broad-ranging research programs are crucial to achieve a deep understanding of EmNet impacts on society and of how to design and develop these systems. REFERENCES Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB), National Research Council. 1994a. Academic Careers for Experimental Computer Scientists and Engineers. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. CSTB, National Research Council. 1994b. Realizing the Information Future; The Internet and Beyond. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. CSTB, National Research Council. 1995. Evolving the High Performance Computing and Communications Initiative to Support the Nation’s Information Infrastructure. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press
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Embedded, Everywhere: A Research Agenda for Networked Systems of Embedded Computers CSTB, National Research Council. 1999. Funding a Revolution: Government Support for Computing Research. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. CSTB, National Research Council. 2000. Making IT Better: Expanding Information Technology Research to Meet Society’s Needs. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. CSTB, National Research Council. 2001. The Internet’s Coming of Age. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Walsh, Sharon. 2000. “Feds make arrest in Internet hoax case.” The Standard, August 31. Available online at <http://www.thestandard.com/article/display/0,1151,18153,00.html>.
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