Malek receives $1 million grant to improve U.S. Air Force systems

February 23, 2016

Associate professor of Informatics Sam Malek has received a $1 million grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) for his project, “RASS: Resilient Autonomic Software Systems.” The three-year project will be a collaboration between UC Irvine and George Mason University.

The RASS project aims to develop a revolutionary new approach to mission support software (MS2) systems used by the United States Air Force (USAF). Existing mission components may become faulty under threat or because of forces of nature. In such events, the USAF relies on other assets. “The dynamic reallocation of resources among different missions has to consider the relative priority of the missions and the importance of these resources to each mission,” the project proposal notes.

Malek and his team propose the RASS framework “for monitoring, organizing, and dynamically adapting MS2 systems so that they continue to operate effectively under conditions of system impairment.” The research will design a visual mission activity language (MAL) to specify MS2 system requirements. To do so, the team will investigate a variety of methods and algorithms that can best offer a system reconfiguration plan to be presented to the commander piloting the mission.

“The problem addressed is a well-known barrier to effective military operations,” Malek says. “The goal of this project is a revolutionary new approach for developing mission support software systems that can dynamically realign at run-time in support of multiple collaborating missions in response to changes in mission objectives or mission component failures. As a result, command decisions will be based on the most pertinent information available.”

Malek and his team also recognize broader military outcomes. “While the application domain used in the proposed research is oriented toward the USAF, the results of the proposed research will be capable of being ported to other areas of the Department of Defense and to the Department of Homeland Security,” they note.

Beyond military outcomes, the researchers anticipate that the project will spawn several conference and journal publications. At George Mason University, the researchers will publish the project’s software as open source, and the project will generate much graduate coursework to “help disseminate a new trend in software systems that support mission critical applications.”