Archive: 2013-06

Risk inherent in any military, government, or industry network system cannot be completely eliminated, but it can be reduced by implementing certain network controls. These controls include administrative, management, technical, or legal methods. Decisions about what controls to implement often rely on computed-risk models that mathematically calculate the amount of risk inherent in a given network configuration. These computed-risk models, however, may not calculate risk levels that human decision makers actually perceive.

I recently joined the Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute (SEI) as deputy director and chief technology officer (CTO). My goal in this new role is to help the SEI advance computer science, software engineering, cybersecurity, and related disciplines to help ensure that the acquisition, development, and operation of software-dependent systems have lower cost, higher quality, and better security. I have spent the past two decades conducting a range of research and development activities, and I have served on various Department of Defense (DoD) advisory boards. In this blog posting, I'd like to talk a little bit about my background and outline the priorities I'm pursuing at the SEI. In subsequent blog postings, I'll describe the SEI technical strategy in more detail.

Warfighters in a tactical environment face many constraints on computational resources, such as the computing power, memory, bandwidth, and battery power. They often have to make rapid decisions in hostile environments. Many warfighters can access situational awareness data feeds on their smartphones to make critical decisions. To access these feeds, however, warfighters must contend with an overwhelming amount of information from multiple, fragmented data sources that cannot be easily combined on a small smartphone screen. The same resource constraints apply to emergency responders involved in search-and-rescue missions, who often must coordinate their efforts with multiple responders. This posting describes our efforts to create the Edge Mission-Oriented Tactical App Generator (eMontage), a software prototype that allows warfighters and first responders to rapidly integrate geotagged situational awareness data from multiple remote data sources.

Aircraft and other safety-critical systems increasingly rely on software to provide their functionality. The exponential growth of software in safety-critical systems has pushed the cost for building aircraft to the limit of affordability. Given this increase, the current practice of build-then-test is no longer feasible. This blog posting describes recent work at the SEI to improve the quality of software-reliant systems through an approach known as the Reliability Validation and Improvement Frameworkthat will lead to early defect discovery and incremental end-to-end validation.