Center for Distributed Object Computing

Computer Science Dept.
Washington University
TEL: (314) 935-4215
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, Missouri 63130-4899

Executive Summary

This document describes the structure and functions of the Center for Distributed Object Computing in the Computer Science department at Washington University. The primary goal of this center is to support advanced R&D on distributed object computing middleware using an open source software development model. This model allows academics, developers, and end-users to participate in leading-edge R&D projects driven by the free market of ideas, requirements, and resources.

Motivation for the Center on Distributed Object Computing

The emergence of the Internet is the most important technological event in the last decade of the 20th century. It is becoming pervasive and will influence research, business, and personal life well into the 21st century. Its growth is phenomenal and it is stretching its original design goals. It must be the next ``trade route,'' the next ``marketplace,'' the next ``information pipeline.'' The Next Generation Internet (NGI) must have a whole new set of characteristics and powerful features. Most importantly, it should be based on standard, completely open middleware.

Middleware is software that users do not see, but it is key to openness and continued innovation through competition. Its role is to broker the communication between consumers and suppliers. Middleware masks differences between OS platforms and networks. For instance, clients can request a service without knowing where or how that service is implemented. This flexibility will become even more important because the NGI architecture is based on the fundamental premise that unlike today's computer-centric network, tomorrow's Internet will be a heterogeneous mix of cooperative, intelligent devices located in the home, at the factory, in public places, and at the office. These network devices will not just be PCs, they will increasingly be intelligent home appliances and sensors, personal communication devices, entertainment centers, and other novel forms of electronics.

For the Internet to become pervasive, access devices must become very cheap, their use must be intuitive, and distributed computing middleware must do most of the ``thinking'' for the users. Thus, today's network architectures, where applications rely largely on local operating system services, must evolve. This evolution will turn the current computing model inside out -- clients will become very thin, the intelligence will reside in the network, and most applications will be network-centric. Resources can then be shared, to reduce their cost and facilitate maintenance and updates.

Intelligent middleware is the key enabling technology to realize the NGI vision. An open standard by the OMG called CORBA is rapidly gaining mindshare and marketshare in both the research and commercial domains. Unfortunately, first-generation CORBA ORBs did not provide adequate quality of service (QoS) for performance-sensitive NGI applications, such as teleconferencing and Internet telephony, because requests were treated with ``best effort'' response. All NGI applications are not created equal, however. Some must run faster, more reliably and more consistently, e.g., in a predictable time context, than others. In a heterogeneous environment, systems and networks can provide better QoS by prioritizing services. As network providers broaden their bandwidth and service offerings, flexibility becomes increasingly more important, since pricing must be sensitive to both performance and ``class of service'' if it is to reach the widest possible market.

The DOC Group's Contribution to R&D on Distributed Object Computing

Since 1995, the DARPA Quorum program, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and many major industrial sponsors have funded the Distributed Object Computing (DOC) group to conduct leading-edge software research on the characteristics and features required for the NGI. The primary contributions of this research have been two key middleware software packages that can support QoS for the NGI -- ACE and TAO: Our research on ACE and TAO is motivated by the recognition that advances in communication middleware software can be achieved only by simultaneously investigating techniques, patterns, and tools that (1) simplify software development, (2) optimize system performance, and (3) rigorously measure system behavior to pinpoint and alleviate performance bottlenecks and sources of priority inversion and non-determinism.

In addition to working closely with our research sponsors on ACE and TAO, many other companies have deployed our middleware in commercial projects and research labs around the world, where it is used for a broad spectrum of systems ranging from telecommunications, medical imaging, avionics, simulation, and financial services. As a testament to our success in technology transfer, a independent company, Riverace, has formed to provide commercial support for ACE and a St. Louis company, OCI, has recently begun to provide commercial support for TAO.

Structure, Funding, and Resources of the Distributed Object Computing Center

Much of the success of ACE and TAO stems from the dedication of the members in the research group at Washington University, St. Louis and the University of California, Irvine, where we've developed a unique R&D culture. This research group includes the following members:

Vanderbilt University Director

Washington University Director

University of California, Irvine Director

Former Washington University Director

Affiliated Faculty and Full-time Staff

  1. Chris Gill <>

    Chris is an Assistant Professor at Washington University who joined the DOC group from Southwestern Bell. He has ported ACE to the pSoS real-time operating system and has implemented a strategized scheduling service for TAO. His Ph.D. focused on a middleware framework for dynamic and adaptive resource management in embedded and real-time distributed object computing systems.

  2. Andy Gokhale <>

    Andy is an Associate Professor in the EECS Department and a Senior Researcher in the Institute for Software Intensive Systems at Vanderbilt University. As a Ph.D. student at Washington University, Andy conducted a substantial amount of work developing benchmarks for CORBA performance over ATM networks. His Ph.D. research contributed many components to TAO -- most notably the various Object Adapter demultiplexing strategies, IIOP optimizations, and the TAO IDL compiler. Andy received his Ph.D. in 1998 and worked as a member of the research staff for Bell Labs at Murray Hill.

  3. Jeff Parsons <>

    Jeff graduated with a BS in Computer Science from Washington University and is a full-time staff member in the DOC group at Washington University working on TAO's IDL compiler, its Interface Repository, and many other odds and ends. As an undergrad, Jeff provided the original TAO Dynamic Any implementation, as well as a DII/DSI application using TAO. He also developed an extensive regression IDL compiler test suite to validate TAO's features. In addition to being a full-time staff member, Jeff is a CS Masters grad student at Washington University.

Doctoral Students

In addition to Jeff Parsons, whom is a full-time staff and a doctoral student, the DOC group has the following doctoral students:

  1. Jaiganesh Balasubramanian<>

    Jai is a graduate student at ISIS where he is working on adding adding load balancing to TAO, component swapping, and a resource allocation and control engine for CIAO.

  2. Krishnakumar Balasubramanian<>

    Kitty is a graduate student at ISIS where he is working on domain-specific modeling languages for the CORBA Component Model (CCM).

MS Students


Total research funding I've been involved with for the DOC group since June 1995 is $26,810,443. This funding can be split into two categories:

A detailed breakdown of the sources of funding is presented below:
  1. "Applications of Reliable, Fast Event Notification," Raytheon, 6/1/2008 to 5/30/2009, $60,000.

  2. "Open Modular Embedded Architectures," General Electric Global Research, 8/1/2008 to 1/31/2009, $35,000.

  3. "Analysis and Simulation Techniques for Next-generation Motion Control Systems," Aagard, 8/1/2008 to 1/31/2009, $13,850 with Akos Ledeczi.

  4. "Open Modular Embedded Architectures," Raytheon, 8/1/2008 to 3/31/2009, $74,276.

  5. ``NAOMI,'' LMCO Advanced Technology Lab, 9/1/2007 to 11/30/2009, $290,000.

  6. ``IU/CRC Membership,'' Siemens, 1/1/2009 to 12/31/2009, $40,000.

  7. "Enterprise Application Configuration in the Context of Model Driven Software Development and Software Factories," Siemens Corporate Research, 10/1/07 to 9/31/08 $91,798.

  8. ``Modular Extendable Demonstration of an Upgradeable Space Architecture (MEDUSA),'' DARPA (subcontract through Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center), 2/1/2008 to 1/31/2011, $600,000.

  9. ``CCM Middleware Implementation and Integration,'' PrismTech, 6/8/2007 to 3/31/2007, $33,778.

  10. ``The Smart Sensor Web Architecture,'' NASA (subcontract through Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center), 12/15/06 to 11/14/09, $467,728, co-PI G. Biswas.

  11. ``Systems and Software PRodUcibility Collaboration and Experimentation Environment (S2PRUCE2),'' AFRL (subcontract through Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Lab), 2/1/07 to 1/31/10, $300,000.

  12. ``IU/CRC Membership,'' General Motors, 1/1/2008 to 12/31/2009, $100,000, co-PI G. Karsai.

  13. ``Team for Research in Ubiquitous Secure Technology (TRUST),'' NSF (subcontract through UC Berkeley), 6/1/05 to 5/31/10, $3,200,000, co-PI(s) J. Sztipanovits and G. Karsai.

  14. ``Pollux: Enhanding the Real-time QoS of the Global Information Grid,'' AFRL, 2/24/06 to 7/24/08, $1,242,718, co-PI M. Reiter.

  15. ``Intelligent Middleware for Next Generation Petascale Scientific Computing,'' Vanderbilt Discover Grant, 5/1/05 to 6/30/07, $100,000, co-PI(s) A. Gokhale and P. Sheldon.

  16. ``Air Force Center for Research on GIG/NCES Challenges,'' AFOSR (subcontract through UC Berkeley), 3/1/06 to 2/28/08, $600,000, co-PI J. Sztipanovits.

  17. ``Quality of Service Enabled Dissemination,'' AFRL (subcontract through BBN Technologies), 12/31/2007 to 9/30/2009, $320,000.

  18. ``A Fault-Tolerant Real-Time CORBA Naming Service,'' US Navy (subcontract through Tech-X Corp), 11/1/2007 to 4/30/2010, $175,000, co-PI A. Gokhale.

  19. ``System Execution Modeling Technologies for Large-scale Net-centric Systems,'' AFRL, 1/1/2008 to 12/31/2010, $244,000.

  20. ``Model-Driven Computing for Distributed Real-time Embedded Systems,'' Raytheon, 8/31/04 to 8/31/08, $500,000.

  21. ``ACE/TAO Improvement Techniques and Solutions, Veritas/Symantec, 3/31/05 to 4/31/08, $198,500.

  22. ``Adaptive Resource Control for Certificable Systems,'' DARPA (subcontract through LMCO Advanced Technology Lab), 3/30/2007 to 12/31/2007, $50,000.

  23. ``Survivable Internet-scale Distributed Systems,'' IDA, 3/30/2007 to 12/31/2007, $60,000.

  24. ``QUality of service pICKER (QUICKER),'' LMCO Advanced Technology Lab, 3/30/2007 to 12/31/2007, $60,000.

  25. ``Thimble,'' LMCO Advanced Technology Lab, 3/30/2007 to 12/31/2007, $60,000.

  26. ``CADynCE Experimentation Operations (CEO),'' DARPA (subcontract through LMCO Advanced Technology Lab), 8/31/2007 to 12/31/2007, $25,000.

  27. ``Real-time Discovery for Pub/Sub Middleware in WANs,'' US Navy (subcontract through Tech-X Corp), 6/16/2007 to 9/31/2007, $15,000.

  28. ``GEMS Utilization Test Suite,'' LMCO Advanced Technology Lab, 9/1/07 to 11/30/07, $50,000.

  29. ``Advanced Information Systems and Technology Program,'' NASA (subcontract through LMCO Advanced Technology Center), 11/13/2007 to 12/1/2007, $22,000, co-PI G. Biswas.

  30. ``Design for Adaptivity and Reliable Operation of Software Intensive Systems,'' NSF CNS-0613971, 9/1/06 to 8/31/08, $199,867, co-PI(s) S. Abdelwahed and G. Karsai.

  31. ``Software Technologies Targeting Interoperability for Systems of Systems,'' Army Research Lab, 1/15/07 1/14/10, $851,567, co-PI(s) G. Karsai and J. Sztpanovits.

  32. ``Software Wind Tunnel (SWiT) Capabilities,'' Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Lab, 8/1/06 to 12/31/06, $60,000.

  33. ``High-Confidence Software Platforms for Cyber-Physical Systems,'' NSF, 5/1/06 to 7/30/08, $129,179.

  34. ``Applying AOP to Develop of Component Synthesis with MDD,'' Siemens, 3/1/03 to 2/28/07, $400,005.

  35. ``Addressing Domain Evolution Challenges in Model-Driven Software Product-lines,'' Siemens Corporate Research, 10/1/05 9/31/07, $100,000.

  36. ``A Fault Tolerant Real-time CORBA Naming Service,'' US Navy (subcontract through Tech-X Corp), 11/1/05 to 8/31/06, $15,000.

  37. ``The SYstem DEployment and Configuration AssisteR (SYDECAR),'' Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Lab, 8/1/05 to 8/1/08, $500,000.

  38. ``Future Combat Systems: Software Architecture Engineering,'' DARPA (subcontract through Boeing), 1/28/05 to 12/31/07, $2,764,226, co-PI(s) J. Sztipanovits and G. Karsai.

  39. ``Development of an Eclipse Plug-in,'' PrismTech, 4/28/05 to 9/30/05, $25,000.

  40. ``Prometheus: Enhancing the QoS of the JBI,'' AFRL, 3/25/05 to 12/31/05, $500,000, co-PI(s) K. Birman and Mike Reiter.

  41. ``A Testbed for Assuring Quality of Software for DRE Systems,'' ONR, 2/15/05 to 1/31/06, $200,000, co-PI(s) A. Gokhale and A. Porter.

  42. ``Enhancing the QoS of SOAs Using Eclipse-based MDD,'' IBM, 2/15/05 to 1/31/06, $29,515, co-PI A. Gokhale.

  43. ``Model-Driven Development of BEEP Application Protocols,'' Cisco, 12/15/04 to 12/14/05, $57,976, co-PI A. Gokhale.

  44. ``Evaluating CORBA Middleware for Space Systems,'' NASA (subcontract through Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center), 9/23/04 to 11/30/06, $186,180, co-PI G. Biswas.

  45. ``Refactoring Techniques to Reduce Middleware Resource Utilization,'' Qualcomm, 10/31/04 to 10/31/05, $104,000, co-P B. Natarajan.

  46. ``Model-Driven Development for Software Defined Radios,'' BAE Systems, 12/1/04 to 3/31/05, $32,000.

  47. ``Enhancing the Robustness and Performance of TENA,'' DISA (subcontract through SAIC and OSC), 7/1/04 to 12/31/04, $75,000.

  48. ``QoS-enabled Fault Tolerant Middleware and MDA Tools,'' Lockheed Martin MSS, 4/1/03 to 12/31/04, $516,434.

  49. ``Trustworthiness in Embedded Systems,'' NSF ITR CCR-032574, 9/31/03 to 8/31/06, $210,454.

  50. ``ACE+TAO Enhancements,'' OCI, gift $20,000.

  51. ``Acquiring Accurate Dynamic Field Data Using Lightweight Instrumentation,'' NSF ITR CCR-0312859, 10/1/02 to 9/31/07, $1,850,000, co-PI(s) A. Porter, D. Notkin, and A. Karr.

  52. ``Intergovernmental Personnel Act,'' DARPA, 6/1/00 to 5/31/02, $198,934.

  53. ``Optimizing Component Models,'' DARPA, 4/1/01 to 6/31/02, $210,000.

  54. ``HLA RTI Next-generation,'' DMSO (subcontract through SAIC), 6/1/01 to 12/31/01, $70,895.

  55. ``ACE Enhancements for Windows NT and Windows CE,'' Siemens Medical Engineering, 2/1/00 9/19/01, $112,000.

  56. ``Scalable and Fault Tolerant Middleware,'' AFRL MURI, 12/1/99 to 3/31/02, $253,701.

  57. ``Protocol Engineering Research Center,'' AFSOR MURI, 6/15/00 to 6/14/03, $264,720, co-PI Tatsuya Suda.

  58. ``Optimizing ORBs for Network Management,'' Cisco Systems, 1/1/00 to 12/31/00, $100,000.

  59. ``TAO Optimizations,'' Raytheon, 10/1/99 to 6/01/01, $50,000.

  60. ``ACE+TAO on pSoS,'' Motorola, 8/15/99 to 12/31/99, $30,000.

  61. ``Real-time Distributed Object Computing,'' Sprint, 8/15/99 8/14/00, $133,068.

  62. ``TAO Enhancements,'' Krones, 8/1/99 to 9/1/99, $5,000.

  63. ``ACE Enhancements,'' ICOMVERSE, gift, $20,000.

  64. ``Weapon Systems Open Architecture,'' Boeing, 7/15/99 to 1/31/00, $51,491.

  65. ``Fault Tolerant CORBA,'' Motorola Labs, 7/15/99 to 7/14/00, $139,000.

  66. ``TAO Enhancements,'' Global MAINTECH, 7/1/99 to 8/1/99, $5,000.

  67. ``ACE QoS Extensions,'' Motorola Trunking, 6/1/99 to 8/1/99, $5,000.

  68. ``CORBA Interceptors,'' Experian, 5/15/99 7/14/99, $10,000.

  69. ``DCOM performance evaluation,'' Microsoft, gift, $30,000.

  70. ``TAO Improvements,'' OCI, 4/1/99 to 9/31/00, $27,000.

  71. ``Middleware Optimizations,'' Telcordia, 2/1/99 to 1/31/00, $52,700.

  72. ``Minimum CORBA,'' Hughes Data Networking, 4/1/99 to 3/31/00, $50,000, co-PI David Levine.

  73. ``Framework Usage Patterns,'' Siemens Corporate Research, 4/1/99 to 3/31/00, $35,000.

  74. ``Dynamic Scheduling and Real-time ORB Optimizations,'' Boeing, 10/1/98 9/30/99, $184,860.

  75. ``Distributed Object Computing Middleware,'' Nortel, 11/1/98 10/31/99, $75,000.

  76. ``ACE subsetting,'' ``ACE subsetting,,'' Nokia, 10/8/98 4/8/99, $30,000.

  77. ``Boeing Research Fellowship,'' Boeing, 9/1/98 8/31/00, $81,486.

  78. ``Patterns and Frameworks Reuse Curriculum,'' Lucent Bell Labs, 9/1/98 12/31/98, $31,200.

  79. ``Patterns, Frameworks, and Components,'' Siemens ZT, 12/1/98 5/31/00, $175,000.

  80. ``High availability frameworks,'' Lucent, 9/1/98 8/31/99, $39,400.

  81. ``Real-time Distributed Object Computing,'' Sprint, 8/1/98 7/31/99, $288,194.

  82. ``Distributed Object Integration for the Quorum Project,'' DARPA S30602-98-C-0187 (subcontract through BBN), 9/1/98 8/31/01, $448,643, co-PI(s) R. Schantz and J. Loyall.

  83. ``Evaluating a Framework for Dynamic Distributed Real-Time Scheduling,,'' USENIX, gift, $18,000.

  84. ``Distributed Object Computing,'' Microsoft, gift, $20,000.

  85. ``Distributed Object Visualization Environment,'' Lockheed Martin, 5/1/98 to 11/31/99, $54,000.

  86. ``Distributed Object Computing with Adaptive End-to-end QoS Guarantees,'' DARPA 9701561, 8/1/97 to 7/31/00, $873,625.

  87. ``Real-time CORBA for Telecommunications,'' Lucent, 12/1/97 to 11/31/98, $100,000.

  88. ``Developing an HLA-compliant RTI with ACE,'' SAIC, 12/15/97 to 1/31/00, $228,075.

  89. ``Real-time CORBA for Wireless,'' Motorola LMPS, 10/15/97 to 10/14/98, $200,000.

  90. ``Real-time CORBA for Avionics,'' Computing Devices International, 10/15/97 to 10/14/98, $39,050.

  91. ``Dynamic Scheduling of Real-time OFPs,'' Boeing, 9/1/97 to 8/31/98, $224,604.

  92. ``Distributed Object Visualization,'' Siemens MED, 10/1/97 to 9/1/98, $40,000.

  93. ``The ADAPTIVE Communication Environment,'' Siemens MED, 10/1/97 to 9/1/98, $70,000.

  94. ``The Architect's Assistant,'' Siemens Corporate Research, 9/1/97 to 8/1/98, $35,000.

  95. ``Monitoring, Visualization, and Control of High Speed Networks,'' NSF NCR-97-14698, 9/1/97 to 8/31/01, $1,200,000, co-PI(s) G. Parulkar, E. Kraemer, J. Turner, and R. Cytron .

  96. ``Adaptive Software Technology Demonstration (ASTD),'' AFRL (subcontract through Boeing), 9/1/98 to 8/31/02, $1,200,000, co-PI(s) B. Doerr, D. Allen, and R. Jha.

  97. ``Patterns, Frameworks, and Components for Multimedia Systems,'' Siemens Research, 1/97 to 6/98, $150,000.

  98. ``Adaptive Servers for High-Performance Imaging,'' Kodak Networked Imaging Tech. Center, 11/96 to 11/97, $40,000.

  99. ``Real-time CORBA,'' Sprint, 9/96 to 12/97, $345,000, co-PI G. Parulkar.

  100. ``OpenMAP -- Object-Oriented Components for Real-time Avionics,'' McDonnell Douglas, 9/96 to 9/97, $241,591.

  101. ``Compilation and Automatic Optimization of Network Protocol Implementations,'' NSF NCR-9628218, 8/96 to 8/99, $411,025, co-PI(s) G. Varghese and R. Cytron (PI).

  102. ``Medical Imaging with Java and the WWW,'' SIEMENS Medical Engineering, 8/96 to 7/97, $125,000.

  103. ``The ADAPTIVE Communication Environment,'' SIEMENS Medical Engineering, 8/96 to 7/97, $90,000.

  104. ``High-performance Distributed Medical Imaging,'' Kodak Imaging, 12/94 to 8/96, $55,152, co-PI J. Blaine.

  105. ``Design Patterns for Concurrent Object-Oriented Networking,'' Object Technologies International, 4/96 to 4/97, $25,000.

  106. ``Distributed Object Computing with CORBA and DCE,'' Bellcore, 5/96 to 12/96, $32,978.

  107. ``The ADAPTIVE Communication Environment,'' SIEMENS Medical Engineering, 6/95 to 6/96, $170,000.

Equipment Resources in the DOC Group

The DOC group has excellent facilities and infrastructure to support distributed object computing research. The networking resources in the DOC group include:

The computing resources in the DOC group include:

Our network and computing infrastrucure supports a variety of multimedia and imaging applications including multi-participant teleconferencing and collaboration, electronic radiology, and video-on-demand.

The Road Ahead

Now that the Center for Distributed Object Computing is established, we plan to use it as a vehicle to enhance our partnerships with various industrial sponsors and other Washington University research groups, such as Jon Turner and Guru Parulkar's Applied Research Lab.

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Last modified 11:34:36 CDT 28 September 2006