The engineering of real‐time embedded systems: Why software needs to be developed using rigorous engineering-based methods?

author: Jim Cooling, Lindentree Associates
published: July 15, 2014,   recorded: June 2014,   views: 3154


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The microprocessor arrived circa 1970 and initially, was a very expensive device. However, by the end of that decade its cost had fallen dramatically, thanks mainly to improvements in design and fabrication methods. Suddenly cost was no longer a barrier to using it as a replacement for conventional analogue and digital electronic systems. And now prices have reached a point where we do, in fact, manufacture throwaway units. The result is that vast areas of our everyday life depends on microcomputer technology:

White goods - washing machines, food mixers, microwave ovens, etc. Autos - engine management, vehicle stability, infotainment, etc.
Home security - smoke detectors, intruder alarms, perimeter monitoring, etc.
Medical - personal health monitoring, dosage control, body/brain scanning, etc.

I could go on, the list is immense. And all of these rely on their software for correct and safe functioning. So, how good is this software? How much reliance can we place on it? How safe is it? Based on real experience the answers are a mixed bunch. Unfortunately we’ve found that, on many occasions, we just don’t do it very well; improvements are badly needed in many areas.

Broadly speaking, the purpose of this presentation is to:
1. Persuade you that we really do have serious problems in the embedded world.
2. Show what leads to such problems in the first place.
3. Make a case for the use of discipline and engineering-­‐style practices when developing software.
4. Provide an overview of practical methods for implementing such practices.

This is not an in-depth technical presentation so don’t look for cookbook solutions. Instead it seeks to get you to think really carefully about how you should be developing software for embedded applications. Most of you will be familiar with CASE, computer-aided software engineering. This talk aims to get you develop better techniques for BASE, brain-aided software engineering.

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