DIMACS Theoretical Computer Science Seminar

Title: How to to Reason about Software Systems, with Almost no Knowledge About them?

Speaker: Naftaly Minsky, Rutgers University

Date: Wednesday, November 14, 2007 11:00-12:00pm

Location: DIMACS Center, CoRE Bldg, Room 431, Rutgers University, Busch Campus, Piscataway, NJ


Software technology is undergoing a relentless transition from monolithic systems, constructed according to a single overall design, into open distributed systems, consisting of a heterogeneous collection of components, distributed over the internet, which may be designed, constructed, and even maintained by different organizations, without any central planning or authority. How can one reason about such open systems, in the absence of detailed knowledge of their constituent parts? How can one predict the overall behavior of such systems? And how can such open systems be managed, maintained, and controlled?

An answer to these critical questions is suggested by our ability to reason about physical systems, and control them, despite almost total ignorance of their structure and composition. This ability is, of course, due to the existence of the laws of nature. I will argue that an analogous ability for software systems can be provided by imposing artificial laws on them. I will discuss how such imposition of laws can be done in practice, and will raise some theoretical questions involved with such laws.