Lancaster University’s Computing Department is leading a major European software development project that has been awarded € 4.4m - around £3.1m - by the European Commission.
The project, called AOSD-Europe: European Network of Excellence on Aspect-Oriented Software Development, will be funded for four years and brings together 11 leading European organisations - nine academic and two industrial - including universities in Germany, The Netherlands, France, Belgium, Israel, Ireland and Spain, plus Siemens AG, Germany, and IBM United Kingdom Ltd.
Lancaster is at the forefront of research into Aspect-Oriented Software Development (AOSD) - earlier this year the University hosted a five-day international conference on the subject, attended by experts from universities and software companies around the world.
The new project is being co-ordinated by Dr Awais Rashid, senior lecturer at the Computing Department, who said: “Lancaster has been undertaking leading research in AOSD for the past seven years - we have been actively involved with initiatives in this area, so it’s no surprise that we are co-ordinating a network of excellence aimed at creating a virtual European research centre. It fits in well with our research perspective (and culture) which focuses on collaboration and exploiting synergies.”
Aspect-oriented software allows computer programmers to develop and make changes to complex projects using a more modular approach. By separating properties with a system-wide impact more clearly, they can make changes to such properties independently of the rest of the elements. These changes can then be reflected in other parts of the system.
The techniques can be used to modularise properties such as security, distribution and mobility in a variety of application domains and are applicable to legacy, contemporary and next generation software systems. Their potential benefits include improved ways of reasoning about a particular problem and solution, a reduction in application code size, reduced development costs and maintenance time, and improved design and code reuse.
The new project will organise the research of the partner organisations into four virtual laboratories that will focus on analysis and design; programming languages; formal methods; and applications. The aim is to harmonise activities of members in order to address the current fragmentation of AOSD activities in Europe and strengthen innovation.
There will also be a knowledge portal that will have web-based information on current and future research plus access to tools and a framework for interacting with academia and industry external to the project. Small to medium sized enterprises in particular will be encouraged to become involved in this area.
Said Dr Rashid: “The project will make it possible for us to work more closely with other European researchers and practitioners. This will provide exposure of concepts developed at Lancaster to project partners while at the same time benefiting from their expertise and experiences. We also anticipate that the project will provide a platform for further collaborative projects with the universities and industrial partners involved.
“AOSD is going to transform the way we reason about, analyse, structure and develop software systems.”