Enabling External Physical Type Annotations for Physically Relevant C++ Code Segments; A Public-Private Partnership Disaster: The Aviation Industry’s Reaction to the Boeing 737 MAX Incidents

Houghton, Charlie, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Sullivan, Kevin, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia
Norton, Peter, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

If errors in cyber-physical systems are found, the authority of the cyber-physical system’s domain (e.g. FAA for aerospace systems) must ensure that those errors are resolved, otherwise, dependability would remain compromised. How can dependability in cyber-physical systems be strengthened?

Cyber-physical systems, such as autonomous vehicles and aerospace guidance, interface software with the physical world. Software errors can lead to expensive and catastrophic failures, so it is valuable to formally verify software correctness. Physical semantic errors occur when data representing physical phenomena are used in operations in ways that are not physically meaningful, e.g., by adding numbers that represent quantities that, in the physical world, cannot be added. How can cyber-physical systems engineers discover physical semantic errors in their programs? We developed a Visual Studio Code extension that embeds additional type
information into physically relevant segments of C++ code and checks for physical semantic errors for time operations.

The 737 MAX disasters have demonstrated failures in U.S. commercial aviation safety. How, then, have U.S. airplane manufacturers, airlines, and U.S. aviation governing bodies balanced profitability and efficiency with safety following the incidents? Systemic FAA oversight failures, company-wide management deficiencies, and short-term economic incentives from airlines have pressured Boeing and other manufacturers to value cost control over safety.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
cyber-physical systems, CPS, physical semantics, Peirce, Visual Studio Code, 737 MAX, Boeing, Federal Aviation Administration, FAA

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Technical Advisor: Kevin Sullivan
STS Advisor: Peter Norton

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