PhD Theses: Compositional behaviour and reliability models for adaptive component-based architectures

Pedro Rodrigues Fonseca

The increasing scale and distribution of modern pervasive computing and service-based platforms makes manual maintenance and evolution difficult and too slow. Systems should therefore be designed to self-adapt in response to environment changes, which requires the use of on-line models and analysis. Although there has been a considerable amount of work on architectural modelling and behavioural analysis of component-based systems, there is a need for approaches that integrate the architectural, behavioural and management aspects of a system. In particular, the lack of support for composability in probabilisitic behavioural models prevents their systematic use for adapting systems based on changes in their non-functional properties. Of these non-functional properties, this thesis focuses on reliability. We introduce Probabilistic Component Automata (PCA) for describing the probabilistic behaviour of those systems. Our formalism simultaneously overcomes three of the main limitations of existing work: it preserves a close correspondence between the behavioural and architectural views of a system in both abstractions and semantics; it is composable as behavioural models of composite components are automatically obtained by combining the models of their constituent parts; and lastly it is probabilistic thereby enabling analysis of non-functional properties. PCA also provide constructs for representing failure, failure propagation and failure handling in component-based systems in a manner that closely corresponds to the use of exceptions in programming languages. Although PCA is used throughout this thesis for reliability analysis, the model can also be seen as an abstract process algebra that may be applicable for analysis of other system properties. We further show how reliability analysis based on PCA models can be used to perform architectural adaptation on distributed component-based systems and evaluate the computational cost of decentralised adaptation decisions. To mitigate the state-explosion problem associated with composite models, we further introduce an algorithm to reduce a component’s PCA model to one that only represents its interface behaviour. We formally show that such model preserves the properties of the original representation. By experiment, we show that the reduced models are significantly smaller than the original, achieving a reduction of more than 80\% on both the number of states and transitions. A further benefit of the approach is that it allows component profiling and probabilistic interface behaviour to be extracted independently for each component, thereby enabling its exchange between different organisations without revealing commercially sensitive aspects of the components’ implementations. The contributions and results of this work are evaluated both through a series of small scale examples and through a larger case study of an e-Banking application derived from Java EE training materials. Our work shows how probabilistic non-functional properties can be integrated with the architectural and behavioural models of a system in an intuitive and scalable way that enables automated architecture reconfiguration based on reliability properties using composable models.