DARPA seeks to create enduring software that's immune to changes in operating systems and Web browsers
ARLINGTON, Va., 8 April 2015. U.S. military researchers are reaching out to software companies to find new methods, compiler designs, runtime implementations, and virtual machine technologies for building long-lived, survivable, and scalable adaptive software systems.
Software experts at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., released a solicitation Tuesday (DARPA-BAA-15-36) for the Building Resource Adaptive Software Systems (BRASS) software engineering project.
The BRASS program seeks to lengthen the shelf life of military software systems, which military leaders find to be unacceptably short. The reasons for short software life cycles often involve informally documented application programming interfaces (APIs), idiosyncratic foreign function interfaces, complex ill-understood model definitions, or ad-hoc data formats, DARPA researchers say.
These mechanisms usually provide only a partial and incomplete understanding of the semantics of software components, which can permeate software system designs and leave them vulnerable to changes in application clients, libraries, middleware, managed services, protocols, models, and drivers that must interact with the outside world with complex browsers, databases, and storage systems.
These kinds of vulnerabilities in complex military software systems often can lead to high software maintenance costs and premature obsolescence of otherwise functionally sound systems.
The goal of the BRASS program is to make fundamental advances in the design of survivable, long-lived complex software systems that are robust to changes in the logical or physical resources of their operational environments.
DARPA scientists wold like to integrate new linguistic abstractions, scalable and compositional formal methods, and resource-aware program analyses to discover and specify the application intent of the original software programmers.
DARPA also is interested in program transformations triggered to adapt applications to resource changes, as well as new systems designs to monitor software ecosystem behavior. BRASS seeks new approaches to enable automated discovery of relationships between computations and the resources they use, along with techniques to incorporate algorithms built in response to ecosystem changes.
The BRASS program has four technical areas: platform, analytics, discovery, and evaluator, and will be divided into three 16-month phases. The program will involve language definition and semantics, program analysis, compiler design, machine learning, artificial intelligence planning, autonomy, control theory, runtime and operating system design, and many application domains.
The platform technical area seeks to explore adaptive and transformation analysis techniques. Analytics involves monitoring system behavior for logical or physical changes to the underlying system. Discovery will specify program properties that identify potential program dependencies on ecosystem changes. DARPA will handle evaluator tasks.
The BRASS program will involve several contractors and has a budget of about $8 million to $10 million.
Companies interested should submit responses online no later than 22 May 2015 online at http://baa.darpa.mil. Email questions or concerns to the BRASS program manager, Suresh Jagannathan, at BRASS@darpa.mil.
More information is online at https://www.fbo.gov/spg/ODA/DARPA/CMO/DARPA-BAA-15-36/listing.html.