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Development of Real-Time Systems (Coursera)

This course is intended for the Master’s student and computer engineer who likes practical programming and problem solving! After completing this course, you will have the knowledge to plan and set-up a real-time system both on paper and in practice.

The course centers around the problem of achieving timing correctness in embedded systems, which means to guarantee that the system reacts within the real-time requirements. Examples of such systems include airbags, emergency breaks, avionics, and also multi-media systems like video playback and QoS in web servers.

The course teaches how to plan real-time systems in theory using established mathematical proofs and how to implement them in practice by using the most common scheduling methods. We also learn and how to program the system in the C language using the FreeRTOS real-time kernel. Finally we have a look at the future of real-time systems namely multi-core real-time systems!

This course focus on the learn-by-doing approach with many examples and real-world programming assignments. We have 5 modules, each with a gentle graded quiz in the end and one peer reviewed programming assignment.

Who is this class for: This course is intended for the Master’s student and computer engineer who likes practical programming and problem solving! Note that as a consequence, quiz questions are more exam questions where you have to construct the answer based on the principles that are taught in the web lectures, rather than to recall the literal text of the teacher.

Syllabus

WEEK 1

Introduction to Real-Time Systems

Here is where it all starts! We will make a brave attempt to start your future career in real-time systems! This week starts by learning the basic building stones in real-time systems and the system parameters required to successfully construct a real-time system. We introduce you to the corner stone of real-time systems, namely the scheduler – and its task in real-time schedules. You learn also what kind of real-time guarantees are needed in which systems. Concretely, you will learn (1) What is needed to create a real-time system (2) Where real-time requirements are needed. (3) The task and job structure and the parameters needed to schedule a task. (4) Difference between pre-emptive and non-pre-emptive tasks. This course is also part of a Blended Master Programme in Embedded Systems.

Graded: Quiz 1

Graded: Assignment 1

WEEK 2

Static Scheduling

In this week we start to actually do some scheduling. We firstly have a look at the simplest type of scheduler – the clock driven scheduler. After this we deepen our learning with the fixed priority scheduler and the monotonic schedulers. We learn how the priorities are determined using these schedulers and we learn when/when not to use these schedulers. Secondly we learn how to determine if a system is overloaded in order to validate schedules without complete system simulation.Concretely, after attending this week you will be able to: (1) Schedule a set of tasks with the clock driven scheduler, with the fixed priority scheduler, with the monotonic schedulers. (2) Determine if a system is overloaded using the total-utilization method and the Urm method. (3) Program FreeRTOS to schedule a set of tasks using the fixed priority scheduler.

Graded: Quiz 2

Graded: Assignment 2

WEEK 3

Dynamic Scheduling

In the previous week we learned the limitations of the total-utilization method and the Urm method. We start this week off by extending these tests to tasks with short response times. The new method is also, as usual, used in practice! We then focus on improving the optimality of real-time schedules. This is done by learning the principles behind dynamic scheduling methods. Two new schedulers using the dynamic scheduling principle is learned and used in practice with a few examples; the LST scheduler and the EDF scheduler.Concretely, you will learn: (1) How to determine feasibility of a set of tasks using the time demand analysis method. (2) How to schedule a set of tasks using LST and EDF. (3) To determine when a dynamic scheduler is appropriate and when it is not appropriate.

Graded: Quiz 3

Graded: Assignment 3

WEEK 4

Non-Periodic Jobs

All things are easy and nice when not caring about non-periodic jobs. When including non-periodic jobs, the schedulers must take these into account to make a feasible schedule, which we learn this week. The problem is that a non-periodic job can arrive at any time, even if a periodic job is already scheduled. We learn both how to optimize a schedule for non-periodic jobs and how to validate a schedule when non-periodic jobs arrive to the schedule. Concretely, we will learn: (1) How to use the slack stealing method to optimize a schedule with non-periodic jobs (2) How to use the LRT scheduler to optimize a schedule with non-periodic jobs (3) How to use the deferrable server to optimize a schedule with non-periodic jobs (4) Formally verify a schedule with non-periodic jobs.

Graded: Quiz 4

Graded: Assignment 4

WEEK 5

Real-Time Operating Systems

This week is what we all have been waiting for! We will deepen our learning of FreeRTOS, its kernel and the functionalities. We demonstrate the importance of predictable computer architectures for example when determining the context switch and factors influencing this overhead. As we head towards the future, we finish this course by introducing you to multi-core real-time systems and scheduling methods for multi-core real-time systems. Concretely, you will learn: (1) The internal mechanisms of FreeRTOS, for example mutexes/semaphores and message queues. (2) Multi-core computer architectures for real-time systems. (3) Multi-core scheduling methods.

Graded: Quiz 5

Graded: Assignment 5

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