Computer Laboratory

Technical reports

Middleware support for context-awareness in distributed sensor-driven systems

Eleftheria Katsiri

February 2005, 176 pages

This technical report is based on a dissertation submitted January 2005 by the author for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy to the University of Cambridge, Clare College.

Abstract

Context-awareness concerns the ability of computing devices to detect, interpret and respond to aspects of the user’s local environment. Sentient Computing is a sensor-driven programming paradigm which maintains an event-based, dynamic model of the environment which can be used by applications in order to drive changes in their behaviour, thus achieving context-awareness. However, primitive events, especially those arising from sensors, e.g., that a user is at position {x,y,z} are too low-level to be meaningful to applications. Existing models for creating higher-level, more meaningful events, from low-level events, are insufficient to capture the user’s intuition about abstract system state. Furthermore, there is a strong need for user-centred application development, without undue programming overhead. Applications need to be created dynamically and remain functional independently of the distributed nature and heterogeneity of sensor-driven systems, even while the user is mobile. Both issues combined necessitate an alternative model for developing applications in a real-time, distributed sensor-driven environment such as Sentient Computing.

This dissertation describes the design and implementation of the SCAFOS framework. SCAFOS has two novel aspects. Firstly, it provides powerful tools for inferring abstract knowledge from low-level, concrete knowledge, verifying its correctness and estimating its likelihood. Such tools include Hidden Markov Models, a Bayesian Classifier, Temporal First-Order Logic, the theorem prover SPASS and the production system CLIPS. Secondly, SCAFOS provides support for simple application development through the XML-based SCALA language. By introducing the new concept of a generalised event, an abstract event, defined as a notification of changes in abstract system state, expressiveness compatible with human intuition is achieved when using SCALA. The applications that are created through SCALA are automatically integrated and operate seamlessly in the various heterogeneous components of the context-aware environment even while the user is mobile or when new entities or other applications are added or removed in SCAFOS.

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BibTeX record

@TechReport{UCAM-CL-TR-620,
  author =	 {Katsiri, Eleftheria},
  title = 	 {{Middleware support for context-awareness in distributed
         	   sensor-driven systems}},
  year = 	 2005,
  month = 	 feb,
  url = 	 {http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/techreports/UCAM-CL-TR-620.pdf},
  institution =  {University of Cambridge, Computer Laboratory},
  number = 	 {UCAM-CL-TR-620}
}