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Complex control systems are heterogeneous, in the sense of discrete computer-based controllers interacting with continuous physical plants, regular data sampling interleaving with irregular communication and user interaction, and multilayer and multimode control laws. This heterogeneity imposes great challenges for control system design in terms of end-to-end control performance modeling and simulation, traceable refinements from algorithms to software/hardware implementation, and component reuse. This paper presents an actor-oriented design methodology that tackles these issues by separating the data-centric computational components (a.k.a. actors) and the control-flow-centric scheduling and activation mechanisms ( a.k.a. frameworks). Semantically different frameworks are composed hierarchically to manage heterogeneous models and achieve actor and framework reuse. We introduce a notion of responsible frameworks to characterize the property that a framework can aggregate individual actor's execution into a well-defined composite execution such that heterogeneous models can be composed. This methodology is implemented in the Ptolemy II software environment. We discuss how some of the most useful models for control system design are implemented as responsible frameworks. As an example, the methodology and the Ptolemy II software environment is applied to the design of a distributed, real-time software implementation of a pendulum inversion and stabilization system.
Date of Publication: March 2004