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Viterbi Computer Scientist Wins IBM Research Cash Award and Software Group's Retrospective Honor

Innovator's 'Prism-RT' Middleware Project Nets $20,000 Prize; Decade-Old Paper Wins Kudo
Eric Mankin
December 04, 2007 — Nenad Medvidovic, an associate professor in the USC Viterbi School's Department of Computer Science,  is one of the recipients of a IBM Real Time Innovation Award 2007 IBM Real Time Innovation Award for university faculty, money he will use to develop a system to allow smaller, less powerful handhelds network more effectively and efficiently.

Separately, he is also being honored for being one of the co-authors of a paper presented at a major software conference one decade ago that has now been designated the most influential paper from that convention.

A system for the small: Medvidovic aims at making tiny computers share and work together as efficiently as larger ones now can.
"As we move towards a future consisting of deeply embedded systems, Neno's work on software architectures for embedded systems assumes great importance and has the potential for greatly simplifying software development for these systems and thereby making huge impact," said CS chair Ramesh Govindan.

"His recent awards reflect community recognition of that fact, and reinforce our standing as one of the premier software engineering groups in the nation.
Medvidovic won a $20,000 grant for his proposal for ""Prism-RT: A Java-Based Architectural Middleware Platform for Real-Time Embedded Systems."

In addition to the cash, the award offers IBM resources for further research.

PRISM is an acronym for "PRogramming In the Small and Many," as distinguished from "the traditional software engineering paradigm of Programing in the Large, primarily aimed at desktop computing," according to the researcher's successful proposal.

In the domain of desktop computing, Medvidovic says, software engineers rely heavily on architectural design to ensure critical application system properties. "However in the Prism world ... software architectures do not play the same central role," perhaps partly because developers are still learning how to make the best use of small devices "characterized by ... limited power, low bandwidth, slow CPU speed, limited memory, and small display size."

Medvidovic hopes to demonstrate the advantages of an architectural approach by using Java (rather than C++, more commonly used for the purpose) to extend an existing 'middleware' platform developed in his group that will link small devices and big computing resources. Specifically, the goal is use IBM's Websphere Real Time Software development kit to run in the Websphere Java runtime environment.

Medvidovic and two graduate students will then create a Java based version of an existing application family to compare with the performance of the same family's implementation in C++.

The IBM program offers researchers at degree-granting institutions working on "open source and open standards-based tools for academic curricula and research." grants of from $10,000 to $25,000.

The other award is for a paper Medvidovic and two other computer scientists, Peyman Oreizy and Richard N. Taylor, presented at the  20th International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE'98), in Kyoto Japan in 1998. 

That paper, "Architecture-Based Runtime Software Evolution," has been judged the most influential paper of the 1998 conference - and its three authors will be honored at the 2008 conference, the 30th in the series, scheduled to take place in Leipzig, Germany May 10-18.

Medvidovic is affiliated with the USC Center for Software and Systems Engineering. He specializes in software architecture modeling and analysis; middleware facilities for architectural implementation; product-line architectures; architectural styles; and architecture-level support for software development in highly distributed, mobile, resource constrained, and embedded computing environments. "Neno," as he is widely known, was previously the winner of a 2005 Okawa Grant.