Self-aware Computing Systems: From Psychology to Engineering

Peter R. Lewis
In Proceedings of the 2017 Design, Automation & Test in Europe Conference & Exhibition (DATE), to appear.

At the current time, there are several fundamental changes in the way computing systems are being developed, deployed and used. They are becoming increasingly large, heterogeneous, uncertain, dynamic and decentralised. These complexities lead to behaviours during run time that are difficult to understand or predict. One vision for how to rise to this challenge is to endow computing systems with increased self-awareness, in order to enable advanced autonomous adaptive behaviour. A desire for self-awareness has arisen in a variety of areas of computer science and engineering over the last two decades, and more recently a more fundamental understanding of what self-awareness concepts might mean for the design and operation of computing systems has been developed. This draws on self-awareness theories from psychology and other related fields, and has led to a number of contributions in terms of definitions, architectures, algorithms and case studies. This paper introduces some of the main aspects of self-awareness from psychology, that have been used in developing associated notions in computing. It then describes how these concepts have been translated to the computing domain, and provides examples of how their explicit consideration can lead to systems better able to manage trade-offs between conflicting goals at run time in the context of a complex environment, while reducing the need for a priori domain modelling at design or deployment time.