Focus (FOundations of Component-based Ubiquitous Systems) is a joint effort between the Institut national de recherche en informatique et automatique (INRIA) (France) and the University of Bologna (Italy), and with the external participation of Ecole normale supérieure (ENS) de Lyon (France).
On the INRIA side Focus is affiliated with the Sophia Antipolis – Méditerranée center.
Ubiquitous Computing (UC) refers to the situation in which computing facilities are embedded or integrated into everyday objects and actvities. Networks are large-scale, including both hardware devices and software agents. In UC, the systems are highly mobile and dynamic: programs or devices may move and often execute in networks owned and operated by others; new devices or software pieces may be added, the operating environment or the software requirements may change. The systems are also heterogeneous (the pieces that form a system may be quite different from each other), and open (the constituents of a system only have a partial knowledge of the overall system, and may only know, or are aware of, a subset of the entities that operate on the system). A prominent recent phenomenon in Computer Science is the emerging of interaction and communication as key architectural and programming concepts. This is especially visible in UC. Complex distributed systems are being thought and designed as structured composition of computational units, usually referred to as components. These components are supposed to interact with each other and such interactions are supposed to be orchestrated into conversions and dialogues. Focus investigates the semantic foundations for UC. The foundations are intended as instrumental to formalizing and verifying important computational properties of the systems, as well as to propose linguistic constructs for them. Prototypes are developed to test the implementability and usability of the models and the techniques.
In UC, the systems are complex. As for complex systems in other disciplines, such as physics, economics, biology, so in UC we need theories that allow us to understand the systems, design or program them, analyse them. The models we study are in the process calculus and lambda-calculus tradition. Such models, with their emphasis on algebra, well address compositionality—a central property in our approach to problems. Accordingly, the techniques we will employ will be mainly operational techniques based on notions of behavioral equivalence, and techniques based on algebra, mathematical logic, and type theory.
International and industrial relations
We have cooperated, or are cooperating, with various Inria Teams, including Indes, Sardes, Moscova, with the universities of ENS Lyon, Paris VII, Cambridge, Copenhagen, Munich, Lisbon, Sendai, and others. We are involved in the EU projects Sensoria (Software Engineering for Service-Oriented Overlay Computers) and Hats (Highly Adaptable and Trustworthy Software using Formal Models), and in a few minor national projects.