Past research projects
The Software Languages Lab is an active partner in the Flanders ExaScience Lab, one of the Intel research labs in Europe. The lab, a partnership between all Flemish universities, IMEC and Intel, is funded by the IWT and Intel. The lab performs research in High-performance Computing for Exascale systems, using Space Weather prediction as an application driver. Within the Exascience lab, the Software Languages lab focuses on new programming models, techniques and language runtime support for exascale computing.
Driven by customers that are increasingly cost-conscious and demanding, software-intensive product builders (i.e. builders of products with an important software component), compete on the basis of and mass customisation are therefore business strategies adopted by a growing number of companies. These companies are faced with several variability challenges with respect to managing all the variants of their products.
The BrusSense team is formed by Matthias Stevens and Ellie D’Hondt, two young and ambitious researchers at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel’s Computer Science Department. It is a continuation and an extension of the NoiseTube project, which investigated participatory techniques for monitoring noise pollution. In particular we turned mobile phones into noise sensors, thus enabling each citizen to measure personal exposure in his or her everyday environment. A collective map of noise pollution is built up by automatic sharing of users’ geolocalized measures within the community. BrusSense will extend this approach towards atmospheric pollution as well as implement a case study in the Brussels Region, an urban area with pollution problems aplenty.
The Software Abstractions for Event-intensive Systems (SAFE-IS) FWO project is situated in the domain of the Internet of Things, where computing power is introduced into everyday object that will enable them to communicate with one another and with more tradi- tional computers. This project focuses on such event- intensive software systems where the crux of the problem lies in the volatility and massiveness of the information produced. SAFE-IS uses an integrated approach at tackling these problems, consisting both of an innovative open programming language and an innovative middleware layer.
Contemporary distributed software systems have become extremely het- erogeneous, dynamic and large-scale; they may include backend servers, regular PCs, various mobile and ubiquitous devices, plus diverse network infrastructures, such as mobile ad-hoc and wireless sensor networks. The STADiUM project, funded by IWT, addresses this complex context and investigates a next generation management platform that is adaptable to various operational conditions and available system resources. The platform will be based on a middleware architecture that embraces adaptation, a set of reusable service frameworks at the device as well as the distribution level of the middleware, and a family of configuration languages.
Ensuring that software can display different behavior in different use contexts requires adapting software at runtime in dynamically created scopes (e.g. in a thread, in a client session, in a collaboration). Context-Oriented Programming (COP) offers dedicated language constructs for performing such dynamically scoped adaptations. However, like any dynamic software adaptation technique, COP hits a conceptual barrier when new variations of existing program entities are integrated into a running system: Although dynamically scoped adaptations inherently preserve some structural integrity requirements , global state consistency requirements  cannot be automatically ensured. Managing dynamically scoped adaptations therefore requires additional application-specific logic from within the system itself. Currently this application-specific logic must be added by the programmer in an ad-hoc way, which pollutes the system's design. The aim of this project is two-fold: (i) the description of the foundations of context-oriented programming that allows systematic reasoning about system-wide consistency in the presence of dynamically scoped adaptations, and (ii) based on this foundation, the creation of a reflective architecture for context-oriented programming languages that accommodates implementing application-specific policies for dealing with consistency conflicts.
Software-intensive systems are among the most complex artefacts ever built. In the development of such systems, the use of rigorous models and analysis methods is essential to make sure that the software satisfies its requirements and exhibits the desired properties (e.g., safety, security, reliability, consistency). At the same time, in order to adapt to the constantly changing requirements and technology, these systems must be able to evolve over time, without breaking their essential properties. This project combines the leading Belgian research teams in software engineering, with recognised scientific excellence in model-driven engineering (MDE), software evolution, formal modelling and verification (FMV) and aspect-oriented software development (AOSD). The project aims to advance the state of the art in each of these domains. The long term objective of our network is to strengthen existing collaborations and forge new links between those teams, and to leverage and disseminate our research expertise in this domain at a European level. The research performed in the context of MoVES is clustered around three main axes: Programming/Modelling Languages, Model Analysis, and Model Evolution.
The Do-it-Yourself Smart Experiences project (DiYSE) aims at enabling ordinary people to easily create, setup and control applications in their smart living environments as well as in the public Internet-of-Things space, allowing them to leverage aware services and smart objects for obtaining highly personalised, social, interactive, flowing experiences at home and in the city.
Three hardware phenomena are currently radically affecting the way we deal with computers and the software that runs on them. First, there is the ubiquitous computing phenomenon which involves the presence of computing power in everyday life objects like wrist watches and cars. Second, there is the miniaturisation phenomenon that makes computers, phones and PDAs blend entirely. This allows users to move about freely. Third, there is the wireless networking phenomenon which allows all these computing devices to exchange information without hampering user mobility. These three phenomena lead to a near future where people are surrounded by countless networked computing devices that provide them with radically new ways of interacting with each other and with the world that surrounds them.
Information and communication technologies have become ubiquitous in today's society, with the dramatic development of networks such as the Internet and the highly increasing availability of personal computers in the households. At the same time, another scientific revolution is on its way, although less known to the general public as it is less directly visible, namely the emergence of quantum technologies, especially in the area of telecommunication. The present proposal lies at the border between these two disciplines, and aims at exploring the promises of quantum technologies within the context of cryptographic applications. The resulting concept of "quantum cryptography", which has been intensively investigated in many universities and research centers for about one decade, is now becoming a commercial reality, with several spin-off companies in the world selling quantum cryptographic products (id-Quantique, MagiQ Technologies, ...). The objective of the present proposal within the ICT Impulse Program is to build on this emerging quantum technology, and strengthen the expertise of the Brussels region in quantum cryptography in a large sense, ranging from the theoretical concepts to the valorisation aspects and the identification of potential industrial partners. This requires a know-how that is particularly broad, naturally including cryptography and quantum information sciences on the fundamental research side, but also an experience in identifying the potential applications of new technologies and more generally in the valorisation of the research outcomes.
Topic: Intelligent dynamic brokering of web services based on performance models.
The strategic basic research project AspectLab-Bis is the second phase of the strategic basic research project AspectLab. AspectLab addresses the development of complex, distributed software systems using Aspect-Oriented Software Development methods, languages and techniques. It proposes a collaboration between the current AOSD actors in Flanders so as to strengthen generic research in this field and demonstrate the power and advantages of AOSD to Flemish software industry for a range of non-trivial and representative applications. AspectLab addresses many open problems in the AOSD domain and the proposal provides acomplete overview of current research issues in AOS. However, the concrete research themes that are matched by concrete activities within the actual scope of the project have been carefully selected to maximize both the available research potential and requirements of Flemish enterprises.
With the change in processor designs and the challenges that come with concurrent and parallel programming, we need to look for new programming paradigms. The need for correctness and the thinking in deterministic algorithms have governed the way we build software. However, with the change to parallel architectures as the norm, it seems that we need to focus on either guaranteed correctness or absolute performance. In this project, we investigate together with IBM Research and the Portland State University how programming models can work in such settings and how we can bound the expected errors to acceptable levels.
European Network of Excellence in cooperation with the University of Lancaster (UK), Universiteit Twente (The Netherlands), Univeristy of Darmstadt (Germany), Trinity College Dublin( Ireland), INRIA (France), University of Malaga (Spain), The Technion (Israel), KUL (Belgium), Siemens (Germany) and IBM (UK).
Topic: Virtual European Research Centre on Aspect-Oriented Software Development.
ORION is a scientific collaboration project with the Universidad de Chile funded by the Flemish Government. The project brings together experts in the development of reflectively implemented language features for open networks of mobile devices and experts in partial behavioural reflection which work on techniques to optimize the use of reflective hooks while retaining a maximum of expressiveness. The goal of the project is to investigate how these research strengths can be combined to produce practicable open reflective infrastructures for open networks.
Topic: Open Reflective Infrastructure for Open Networks.