Semantic-driven modeling and reasoning for enhanced safety of cyber-physical systems

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This dissertation is concerned with the development of new methodologies and semantics for model-based systems engineering (MBSE) procedures for the behavior modeling of cyber-physical systems (CPS). Our main interest is to enhance system-level safety through effective reasoning capabilities embedded in procedures for CPS design. This class of systems is defined by a tight integration of software and physical processes, the need to satisfy stringent constraints on performance, safety and a reliance on automation for the management of system functionality. Our approach employs semantic–driven modeling and reasoning : (1) for the design of cyber that can understand the physical world and reason with physical quantities, time and space, (2) to improve synthesis of component-based CPS architectures, and (3) to prevent under-specification of system requirements (the main cause of safety failures in software). We investigate and understand metadomains, especially temporal and spatial theories, and the role ontologies play in deriving formal, precise models of CPS. Description logic-based semantics and metadomain ontologies for reasoning in CPS and an integrated approach to unify the semantic foundations for decision making in CPS are covered. The research agenda is driven by Civil Systems design and operation applications, especially the dilemma zone problem.

Semantic models of time and space supported respectively by Allen’s Temporal Interval Calculus (ATIC) and Region Connectedness Calculus (RCC-8) are developed and demonstrated thanks to the capabilities of Semantic Web technologies. A modular, flexible, and reusable reasoning-enabled semantic-based platform for safety-critical CPS modeling and analysis is developed and demonstrated. The platform employs formal representations of domains (cyber, physical) and metadomains (temporal and spatial) entities using decidable web ontology language (OWL) formalisms. Decidable fragments of temporal and spatial calculus are found to play a central role in the development of spatio-temporal algorithms to assure system safety. They rely on formalized safety metrics developed in the context of cyber-physical transportation systems and collision avoidance for autonomous systems. The platform components are integrated together with Whistle, a small scripting language (under development) able to process complex datatypes including physical quantities and units. The language also enables the simulation, visualization and analysis of safety tubes for collision prediction and prevention at signalized and non-signalized traffic intersections.