Statement of Task
This project will convene a mixed group of experts to assess current practices for developing and evaluating mission-critical software, with an emphasis on dependability objectives. The goal of this study is to identify the kinds of system properties for which certification is desired, how that certification is obtained today, and, most important, what design and development methods, including methods for establishing evidence of trustworthiness, could lead to future systems structures that are more easily certified. Where these methods cannot be identified, the study will identify a research agenda that would lead to their discovery. The committee will address system certification, examining a few different application domains (e.g., medical devices and aviation systems) and their approaches to software evaluation and assurance. This should provide some understanding of what common ground and disparities exist.
The discussion will engage members of the fundamental research community, who have been scarce in this arena. It will consider approaches to systematically assessing systems’ user interfaces. It will examine potential benefits and costs of improvements in evaluation of dependability as performance dimensions. It will evaluate the extent to which current tools and techniques aid in ensuring and evaluating dependability in software and investigate technology that might support changes in the development and certification process. It will also use the information amassed to develop a research agenda for dependable software system development and certification, factoring in earlier High Confidence Software and
Systems research planning. It will also investigate ideas for improving the certification processes for dependability-critical software systems. The work of the expert committee will culminate in a written report with recommendations, which will be subject to National Research Council review processes.