Research guarantees proper integration of software components

Date: Jan 31, 2011

The development of complex software systems like ecommerce applications, is very challenging. They consist of many small components  that have to be integrated into one system, while guaranteeing their functionality.  David Costa from the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) in Amsterdam, studied how complex software systems can be made more reliable. On 13 December he received his PhD for his dissertation" Formal Models For Component Connectors" at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. The results of his research can be applied by software developers.

In an ecommerce system software components of multiple functionality such as ‘search’, ‘recommendations’ or ‘spellchecking’ are integrated. A main bottleneck in this process is the proper integration of the different components. For instance, the recommendations in the e-commerce system should be in line with the keyword typed in the search box. It often happens that in complex systems  part of the integration fails, leading to errors in the computer program.

In his research Costa developed formal models for component connectors, the ‘glue’ that integrates the different software components together. Costa proved mathematically that the proper integration of the different components is guaranteed. This allows software developers, instead of re-inventing the wheel, to focus on re-using existing software components and build as a result more complex systems. To a certain limit, software developers were already building software systems along this principle. With the research of Costa these limitations were pushed down significantly.

David Costa formed part of the research group Foundations of Software Engineering at CWI, under the leadership of Frank de Boer. The research of the group focuses on concurrent distributed software systems and encompasses foundations, technology, and applications, specifically in the context of component-based software engineering and service-oriented computing. Costa has applied the results of his research at Fredhopper, a leading company in the ecommerce marketing software industry.