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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/E005276/1
Title: VERA: Verifiable Aspect Models for Middleware Product Families (Visiting Fellowship)
Principal Investigator: Rashid, Professor A
Other Investigators:
Blair, Professor G
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Computing & Communications
Organisation: Lancaster University
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 21 August 2006 Ends: 20 January 2007 Value (£): 19,452
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Modelling & simul. of IT sys. Software Engineering
System on Chip
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Information Technologies
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
The overall aim of the VERA project is to develop a modelling framework for verifiable composition of aspect models pertaining to middleware families. Middleware is emerging as an increasingly important technology in the construction of (often complex) distributed applications and services. The role of middleware is to mask out problems of heterogeneity and distribution and to provide a more abstract and transparent programming model to application developers. However, in recent years it has become much more difficult to provide comprehensive middleware platforms largely due to the significant rise in levels of heterogeneity. As well as traditional aspects of heterogeneity (language, platform, etc.), middleware providers must also deal with increasing heterogeneity of application domains (pervasive, multimedia, mobile, Grid, etc.) as well as similar rises in heterogeneity in the deployment environment (wireless, wired, ad-hoc, etc.). Furthermore, there is a need to support a wider variety of non-functional requirements in areas such as security and dependability, with more specialised solutions emerging, for example, in areas such as pervasive computing. It is now clear that middleware providers are struggling with such extreme heterogeneity and rather provide platforms that are overly bloated and complex to deal with the variety of situations where they might be used. It is equally clear that this is unsatisfactory and that a major paradigm shift is required to cater for such changing operational conditions.The middleware community is reacting to these challenges and there is now strong interest in reflective middleware as a technique to support more configurability, and indeed reconfigurability. For the purposes of this proposal, we focus exclusively on the problems of configurable middleware and, in particular, how middleware families can be generated using the inherent support provided by reflection. However, there is an element of complexity in dealing with the flexibility that reflection offers. In is therefore imperative that in parallel with developments in reflective middleware, we also study tools and techniques that support the automatic or semi-automatic generation of middleware families from higher level specifications. In this project, we propose to study the marriage of three areas of technology in meeting this challenge:1. Reflective middleware as discussed above;2. Model driven engineering (MDE) to support the automatic construction of complex software from models (in our case middleware);3. Aspect-oriented software development (AOSD) to provide a natural separation of concerns both in terms of the models and the resultant platform.This needs close co-operation between the different communities. We are fortunate at Lancaster to have internationally leading activity in the areas of (reflective) middleware and AOSD. This proposal is concerned with supplementing these skills by bringing in Prof. Robert France as a visiting researcher to the department for a period of 5 months to complete our coverage of the three areas (Robert is a leading researcher in MDE).
Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.lancs.ac.uk