PROPOSAL FOR AN ENVIRONMENT FOR DISTRIBUTED SYSTEMS DEVELOPMENT
The development of future generation computing systems involves the integration of a range of technologies that have previously been treated as quite separate. The Japanese ICOT group state they are using the "latest research results in VLSI technology, as well as technology of distributed processing, software engineering, knowledge engineering, artificial intelligence, and pattern information processing." This need for system integration is not just a theme of fifth generation computing. It reflects a growing industrial emphasis on the development of systems targeted at specific markets, yet taking full advantage of advances in the diverse technologies that make up the infrastructure of modern computing systems. The Jade project in this Department has been an experiment in bringing together specialists in the key areas of computing technology to focus together on the development of a single application development support environment for integrated systems. The three-year experiment has been remarkably successful not only in the system developed but also in the effective interaction between those involved. It has demonstrated that researchers with many different backgrounds and objectives can work together in the way necessary to integrate their diverse skills. This new proposal builds on, and extends, the Jade system as developed in the light of our experience to date. It aims to provide a practical application development support environment for the design and implementation of large distributed, concurrent or embedded systems. It aims to make this available to industry as a set of tools that are readily transported across a range of widely available systems. It aims to be applicable to system developments ranging from VLSI design to integrated manufacturing systems. It aims to incorporate our existing experience and skills in VLSI, machine architecture, software engineering, simulation, graphics and human factors, together with new developments in knowledge-based systems. The project is ambitious, and unusual in its expectation that groups with such diverse interest will work closely together. However, from our previous experience we are confident that the aims are achievable and the resulting systems and knowledge will be strategic importance for Canada.