BU Systems Seminar

  • All Day on Thursday, September 21, 2023

Speaker: Weifan Chen

Talk Title: Low-Overhead Online Assessment of Timely Progress as a System Commodity

Abstract: The correctness of safety-critical systems depends on both their logical and temporal behavior. Control-flow integrity (CFI) is a well-established and understood technique to safeguard the logical flow of safety-critical applications. But unfortunately, no established methodologies exist for the complementary problem of detecting violations of control flow timeliness. Worse yet, the latter dimension, which we term Timely Progress Integrity (TPI), is increasingly more jeopardized as the complexity of our embedded systems continues to soar. As key resources of the memory hierarchy become shared by several CPUs and accelerators, they become hard-to-analyze performance bottlenecks. And the precise interplay between software and hardware components becomes hard to predict and reason about. How to restore control over timely progress integrity? We postulate that the first stepping stone toward TPI is to develop methodologies for Timely Progress Assessment (TPA). TPA refers to the ability of a system to live-monitor the positive/negative slack - with respect to a known reference - at key milestones throughout an application’s lifespan. In this paper, we propose one such methodology that goes under the name of Milestone-Based Timely Progress Assessment or MB-TPA, for short. Among the key design principles of MB-TPA is the ability to operate on black-box binary executables with near-zero time overhead and implementable on commercial platforms. To prove its feasibility and effectiveness, we propose and evaluate a full-stack implementation called Timely Progress Assessment with 0 Overhead (TPAw0v). We demonstrate its capability in providing live TPA for complex vision applications while introducing less than 0.6% time overhead for applications under test. Finally, we demonstrate one use case where TPA information is used to restore TPI in the presence of temporal interference over shared memory resources.

Bio: Weifan's journey is a bit unconventional. He started out studying physics, then shifted gears into artificial intelligence for his master's. Now in his third year of a PhD focusing on embedded systems with advisor Renato Mancuso.

665 Commonwealth Ave, Room 950 (9th floor)

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