ACM India Live Interaction, 16 December: "The Science of Cyberphysical System Safety and Security"

December 9, 2020

In this second session of the ACM India Live Interaction Series, we focus on a very exciting and interdisciplinary topic that addresses the challenges of Cyberphysical System Safety and Security. The panellists are eminent academicians and industry leaders who have made outstanding contributions in systems safety and security.

Register now for "The Science of Cyberphysical System Safety & Security", to be presented on Wednesday 16 December 2020 at 5 pm IST. The panellists include four eminent researchers and practitioners from India and France.

The hosts for this session will be Rajeev Shorey, CEO, UQIDAR, IIT Delhi and Member of ACM India Council and Hemant Pande, Executive Director of ACM India Council.

All students, faculty and industry professionals are welcome to attend the session. Feel free to forward this communication to those who would be interested.

Note : You can also stream this session on your mobile device, including smartphone and tablet.

Abstract: The panel will discuss scientific and industrial solutions to the design and safety/security verification of cyberphysical systems, which are computerized systems that constantly interact with their physical environment. Their software typically controls complex physical phenomena using algorithms from Control Theory, with behavioral determinism and timing constraints. The field started by fly-by-wire and engine control software in avionics, railway signaling and train control, nuclear plant control, etc. Their strong safety and security constraints led the authorities to have them certified by dedicated agencies. Nowadays, the field is rapidly expanding with myriad of new applications in domains such as automotive with the generalized computer control of previously mechanical-only functions, medicine with connected pacemakers, insulin pumps and robot surgeons, fancy factory control, home automation, etc. But many safety and security problems do show up, as shown by tenths of deadly automobile accidents provenly due to a faulty engine control software, the possibility of remote-controlling some cars from the Internet through the sound system, the numerous security holes found in pacemakers, etc.

In cyberphysical systems concurrency and determinism are two basic needs. But classical concurrent programming languages are based on asynchronous execution; this implies non-determinism and no timing predictability, thus the exact opposite. In 1980’s, French joint computer science / control theory research groups introduced deterministic synchronous programming as a new way of thinking and acting. They developed languages such as Esterel and Lustre, soon formalized mathematically and further developed in collaboration with other researchers and companies in the USA and India, reaching other fields such as communication protocols and digital circuit design. Used in the 1990’s in avionics by Dassault Aviation and Airbus, Esterel and Lustre were unified in 2006 by the Esterel Technologies company into the SCADE 6 formally defined language, with an avionics-certified compiler plus support for simulation and worst-case execution time calculation. SCADE 6 is now used by more than 300 customers worldwide for certified safety-critical applications in many industries.

Starting from this strong basic, we will discuss new scientific problems now tackled by several research labs worldwide: improving the link to automatic formal verification systems to check critical safety properties; using synchronous techniques to improve the Simulink-like simulation tools widely used in the design phase, which exhibit serious flaws when combining discrete and continuous control; building formally machine-verified compilers and simulators using verification assistants to make certification scientific instead of administrative; and generating deterministic and timing-verified code to be executed on multiprocessors or dedicated computer networks. The panel will end by briefly discussing the strong need to improve the security of connected cyberphysical objects, which is actually poor enough to limit their announced expansion into a reliable Internet of Things.

Duration : 90 minutes (including audience Q&A)


  1. Gérard Berry, Member of the French Académie des sciences, France
  2. Sandeep Kumar Shukla, CSE Department, IIT Kanpur
  3. Sanjiva Prasad, CSE Department, IIT Delhi
  4. Sailaja Vadlamudi, SAP Labs, India

Dr. Rajeev Shorey is a member of the ACM India Council. He is the CEO of the University of Queensland - IIT Delhi Academy of Research (UQIDAR), IIT Delhi.

Dr. Hemant Pande is the Executive Director of ACM India Council.