Policy-based approach for context-aware systems
Pervasive (ubiquitous) computing is a new paradigm where the computers are submerged into the background of the everyday life. One important aspect of pervasive systems is context-awareness. Context-aware systems are those that can adapt their behaviours according to the current context. Context-aware applications are being integrated into our everyday activity aspects such as: health care, smart homes and transportations. There exist a wide range of context-aware applications such as: mobile phones, learning systems, smart vehicles. Some context-aware systems are critical since the consequence of failing to identify a given context may be catastrophic. For example, an auto-pilot system is a critical context-aware system; it senses the humidity, clouds, wind speed and accordingly adjusts the altitude, throttle and other parameters. Being a critical context-aware system has to be provably correct. Policy-based approaches has been used in many applications but not in context-aware systems. In this research, we want to discover the anatomy (i.e. architecture, structure and operational behaviour) of policy-based management as applied to context-aware systems, and how policies are managed within such a dynamic system. We propose a novel computational model and its formalisation is presented using the Calculus of Context-aware Ambients (CCA). CCA has been proposed as a suitable mathematical notation to model mobile and context-aware systems. We decided to use CCA due to three reasons: (i) in CCA, mobility and context-awareness are primitive constructs and are treated as first-class citizens; (ii) properties of a system can be formally analysed; (iii) CCA specifications are executable, and thus, leading to rapid prototyping and early validation of the system properties. We, then show how policies can be expressed in CCA. For illustration, the specification of the event-condition-action (ECA) conceptual policy model is modelled in CCA in a natural fashion. We also propose a policy-based architecture for context-aware systems, showing its different components, and how they interact. Furthermore, we give the specification of the policy enforcement mechanism used in our proposed architecture in CCA. To evaluate our approach, a real-world case study of an infostation-based mobile learning (mLearning) system is chosen. This mLearning system is deployed across a university campus to enable mobile users to access mobile services (mServices) represented by course materials (lectures, tests and tutorials) and communication services (intelligent message notification and VoIP). Users can access the mServices through their mobile devices (Hand-set phones, PDAs and laptops) regardless of their device type or location within a university campus. We have specified the mLearning system in CCA (i.e. specification based on policies of the mServices), afterwards, the specification is simulated using the CCA interpreter tool. We have developed an animation tool specially designed for the mLearning system. The animation tool provides graphical representation of the CCA processes. In terms of safety and liveness, some important properties of the mLearning system have been validated as a proof of concept.
- PhD