Comp 790-062 (Cyber-Physical Systems) Information

When and Where

Fridays, 10am-Noon, in SN115.

What and How

This course is being organized by six faculty members: Ron Alterovitz, Jim Anderson, Sanjoy Baruah, Mike Reiter, Montek Singh, and Russ Taylor. The focus of the course is cyber-physical systems (CPS). These are systems that have designs that reflect a coupling of computational and physical elements. A good example of such a system is a next-generation unmanned air vehicle with decision-making capabilities: part of such an aircraft's design hinges on control-theoretic and physics-related concepts that are essential for flight, and part of it hinges on computational components required to enact decision-making and planning capabilities. As this example illustrates, cyber-physical systems are usually, if not always, embedded systems. As such, the topic of CPS has its roots in work on embedded systems. However, this topic, in its broadest sense, has been the focus of academic research only recently.

The goals of the course are threefold: (i) to bring together people in the department who conduct research on CPS-related topics, (ii) to give them a forum for learning about each others' research areas and specific research activities in the department, and (iii) to give them a forum for learning about CPS more broadly. It is hoped that, through this course, new research of a collaborative nature pertaining to CPS will be initiated in the department.

Procedurally, this will actually be a student-led course. We will meet once a week (Friday mornings), and each week, one or more students will be responsible for presenting that day's material. Although not set in stone, the faculty leading this course envision the lectures breaking down as follows. Based on research interests and activities in the department, we propose concentrating on four topics areas:

  1. Real-time and embedded systems
  2. Security and networking
  3. Robotics, medical devices, and teleoperation
  4. Hardware and energy issues
Three classes would be devoted to each topic. This gives a total of 12 classes, which provides some slack to fill in with additional material or to deal with those topics that run a little over. For each topic, we propose having three lectures as follows.
  1. Spend one class introducing the area. This lecture needs to hit the important highlights (from a CPS perspective) of an entire semester-long course on the topic and do it in only 2 hours. This is important so that we understand the context of each others' areas. This will probably be the hardest lecture to prepare because of the time constraints.
  2. Spend one class discussing CPS-related work that touches on the area that has either been done or proposed by someone. This would involve covering, say, three or four (non-UNC) papers worth of material.
  3. Spend one class discussing UNC work on the topic that is CPS-ish.

Registration for this course is by permission only (please contact Prof. Anderson if you're interested). Enrolled students will be required to do their fair share of the class presentations and to write a course paper. The course paper will actually be an NSF-style grant proposal that proposes some interesting new CPS-related work that integrates the various areas covered in class. We will probably divide students into groups, with the people in each group having different research backgrounds, and have each group submit one proposal (course paper). Students will be graded based upon their presentation(s), course paper, and class participation. We will have a more thorough discussion of grading in class.

In terms of the department's course classification, this is is an applications course.

Last modified 15 August 2011 :