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Ultra-Large-Scale Systems

A Workshop At OOPSLA 2006

October 26, 2006

Portland, Oregon

Richard P. Gabriel. Linda Northrop, Doug Schmidt, Kevin Sullivan

Scale changes everything.

The trend in the design and development of software-intensive systems today is toward scale that increases in every measurable way. Lines of code, complexity, dependency, communication, bandwidth, memory, datasets, and many other measures for our systems continue to reach and exceed the limits of our ability to produce high-quality systems for all purposes.

These systems will be unbounded, integrating internet-scale resources. They will serve diverse stakeholders with competing objectives and at the same time be constrained by policy, regulation, and the behaviors of their users. The lines between development, acquisition, and operations will blur: ULS systems will not die; they will be too large to be replaced and will be inextricably connected to the day-to-day mission. Rather, they will continue to evolve over time with behavior often more emergent than planned. Because complete specifications will not be achievable, sufficient assurance will have to do. ULS systems present “wicked problems,” ones for which each attempt to create a solution changes the problem. Some of these characteristics appear in conventional systems, but in ULS systems they will dominate.

Main Theme and Goals

Designing and building Ultra large scale systems require both getting better at the ways we design and build today as well as making many breakthroughs. The theme of this workshop is the nature of ULS systems and the kinds of work needed to make their construction possible. The goals of the workshop are to explore the characteristics and challenges presented by ULS systems, and to lay out the landscape of promising approaches, research areas, and existing technologies that will form the basis for future software engineering practices and theories sufficient for creating ULS systems.

Organizing Committee

Richard P. Gabriel (chair of the workshop and primary contact) received a PhD in Computer Science from Stanford University in 1981, and an MFA in Poetry from Warren Wilson College in 1998. He has been a researcher at Stanford University, company president and Chief Technical Officer at Lucid, Inc., vice president of Development at ParcPlace-Digitalk, a management consultant for several startups and Sun Microsystems, and Consulting Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University.

Richard will be organizing and leading the workshop.

Linda Northrop is director of the Product Line Systems Program at the Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute (SEI), where she leads the SEI work in software architecture, component and product line engineering. She is also the lead of a new research study in ultra-large-scale systems. Before joining the SEI, she was associated with both the United States Air Force Academy and the State University of New York as professor of computer science, and with both Eastman Kodak and IBM as a software engineer. She is co-author of the book, “Software Product Lines: Practices and Patterns,” chaired both the first and second international Software Product Line Conference (SPLC1 and SPLC2), and is chair of the SPLC Steering Committee. Linda is a recipient of the Carnegie Science Award of Excellence for Information Technology and a member of the OOPSLA Steering and the AOSD Steering Committees, the ACM, and the IEEE Computer Society.

Douglas C. Schmidt is a Professor of Computer Science, Associate Chair of the Computer Science and Engineering program, and a Senior Researcher in the Institute for Software Integrated Systems (ISIS), all at Vanderbilt University. His research covers a range of research topics, including patterns, optimization techniques, and empirical analyses of software frameworks and domain-specific modeling environments that facilitate the development of distributed real-time and embedded (DRE) middleware and applications running over high-speed networks and embedded system interconnects. Dr. Schmidt has served as a Deputy Office Director and a Program Manager at DARPA, where he led the national R&D effort on middleware for DRE systems. In addition to his academic research and government service, Dr. Schmidt has over fifteen years of experience leading the development of ACE, TAO, CIAO, and CoSMIC, which are widely used, open-source DRE middleware frameworks and model-driven tools that contain a rich set of components and domain-specific languages that implement patterns and product-line architectures for high-performance DRE systems.

Kevin Sullivan received his undergraduate degree from Tufts University in 1987 and PhD in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Washington in 1994. He is now Associate Professor and Virginia Engineering Foundation (VEF) Endowed Faculty Fellow in computer science at the University of Virginia, where he has worked since 1994. Kevin’s research interests are software-intensive systems in general, and particularly in software engineering and languages. He has served as associate editor for the the ACM Transactions on Software Engineering and Methodology and the Journal of Empirical Software Engineering and on the program and executive committees of major research conferences including the ACM SIGSOFT Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering (FSE), the International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE), Aspect-Oriented Software Development (AOSD) and ACM SIGPLAN-SIGACT Symposium on Principles of Programming Languages (POPL). Sullivan’s research interests are in modularity and integration at the architectural level, value-driven software engineering, and dependability.

Workshop Preparation

Participants will be expected to read the SEI ULS report (which is available here, or you can use this direct link to get the pdf [6.43 mb]) and submit a position paper that lays out for ULS systems a characteristic, a challenge, an approach, a research topic or an observation that demonstrates a depth of thoughtfulness suitable for an advanced discussion of ULS systems. A revised version of the report's executive summary is available here.

Workshop Activities and Format

This is a full-day workshop. There will be a minimum of formal presentations—perhaps only 2 or 3. The primary activities will be breakout sessions and subsequent discussion. We will set up a Wiki for taking notes and for additional interaction.

The Wiki (read the next paragraph before trying to go there) will be available for pre-, during, and post-workshop use.

A Login and Password are required to access the wiki. Here is everything you need to know: Breathturn was a collection of poetry written by Celan (note capitalization). If you still need to know the Login and Password, please send email to breathturn at dreamsongs.com.

Here are how the workshop will break down:

8:30–9:30 formal presentations
9:30–12:00 breakouts and discussion
13:00–15:00 breakouts and discussion
15:00–17:00 consolidation

Post-Workshop Activities

The Wiki will remain alive after the workshop in hopes of continuing the investigation. We hope to write a paper on the topic after the workshop or perhaps a monograph.

Admission to the Workshop

Admission is by invitation only. There are two ways to be invited. One is to submit a short (a page is fine) piece responding to this call for participation. Add a short biography if we don’t know who you are. Email it to Richard P. Gabriel (breathturn at dreamsongs.com). The other is to start contributing to the Wiki, signing your statements and adding a page about yourself stating that you wish to be invited.

We will accept submissions until around mid-October 2006.