TNO-ESI and Academic Partners Deliver ASCI PhD Course on Design and Implementation of Real-time Systems

The Netherlands boasts a world-leading high-tech manufacturing industry renowned for constructing distributed real-time systems of continuously growing complexity. These systems must meet stringent timing requirements to ensure the delivery of mission-critical functionalities. To create interest in the high-tech equipment domain and prepare PhD students in Computer Science to address its performance challenges, TNO-ESI has co-created and delivered a one-week PhD course Design and Implementation of Real-time Systems together with academic partners from Eindhoven University of Technology, University of Twente, and University of Amsterdam. The course is given in the context of the Advanced School for Computing and Imaging (ASCI), a Dutch research school for high-quality research and education in computer systems and imaging systems. ASCI encompasses almost all Dutch universities with computer-science departments. The main goals of ESI involvement in this course were to make participants aware of TNO and its role in society and industry and position it as a possible future employer, and creating awareness of TNO-ESIs vision and work in the area of system performance engineering.

The course is focused on providing an overview of selected timing-sensitive applications and the current research landscape on real-time systems and explaining the rationale behind considering real-time requirements in system software design. Through a series of lectures and hands-on labs, the course covers selected topics from scheduling algorithms, priority assignments, resource sharing, resource reservation, together with their implementation in real-time operating systems. It further discusses emerging challenges and practices in an industrial context, based on empirical surveys and experience from TNO-ESIs applied research on telemetry-based system performance engineering for purposes of performance optimization, verification, and diagnostics.

This first instance of the course was given at the Carlton President Hotel in Maarsen, outside Utrecht between June 10 – 14. 15 PhD students from universities all over the Netherlands researching a broad range of topics in computer science participated in the course. TNO-ESI was in the spotlight during the last day of the course. In the morning, I introduced the high-tech equipment domain and its complexity drivers and explained how new model-based engineering methodologies where needed to address them. Next, my colleague Bram van der Sanden presented our view on the field of System Performance Engineering, along with its focus areas and best practices. This was followed by two concrete examples from our system performance research: Kostas Triantafyllidis presented his work on performance analysis and diagnosis with ASML, followed by a presentation by me about performance verification and conformance checking in microservice systems based on our work with Thales.

The course was well-received by the participants and the contents were rated 8.7/10 in the evaluation. We very much enjoyed the experience of creating and delivering this course together with our academic partners. Thank you Kuan-Hsun Chen (leader of the initiative), Mitra Nasri, and Geoffrey Nelissen for the excellent collaboration in organizing this course. Thanks to Kay Heider and Christian Hakert for leading the hands-on exercises. We are also thankful to invited speakers Bram van der Sanden and Kostas Triantafyllidis.

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