Visible to the public DARPA META Program

The goal of the META program is to substantially improve upon the existing systems engineering, integration, and testing process for defense systems. META is not predicated on one particular alternative approach, metric, technique, or tool. Broadly speaking, it aims to develop model-based design methods for cyber-physical systems far more complex and heterogeneous than those to which such methods are applied today; to combine these methods with a rigorous deployment of hierarchical abstractions throughout the system architecture; to optimize system design with respect to an observable, quantitative measure of complexity for entire cyber-physical systems; and to apply probabilistic formal methods to the system verification problem, thereby dramatically reducing the need for expensive real-world testing and design iteration.

The year one META effort was organized into multiple, independent technical research paths:

  • (MoC) Metric of Complexity: a practical, observable metric for cyber-physical systems to enable design trades, cyber-vs-physical implementation trades, and to improve parameterization of cost and schedule
  • (MoA) Metric of Adaptability: a quantative metric measuring the ability of a system to change easily, quickly, and inexpensively (i.e., with minimum incurrence of cost and degradation in performance) in response to a wide spectrum of anticipated and unanticipated perturbation events exogenous or endogenous to the system
  • (MetaL) Metalanguage for System Representation: a maximally expressive yet formal language applicable across a broad range of heterogeneous constituent components that is capable of characterizing software and electromechanical components
  • (DFT) Design Flow and Tools: a novel design flow that employs hierarchical abstraction and model-based composition of electromechanical and software components to achieve designs that are ultimately verifiable—at least in a probabilistic sense
  • (VFT) Verification Flow and Tools: a verification approach and enabling tools that generate probabilistic “certificates of correctness” for entire large-scale cyber-physical systems such as ground combat vehicles, airplanes, or rotorcraft based on stochastic formal methods, scaling no faster than linearly with problem complexity

Successive development on META has focused on developing an integrated software tool suite that exercises a novel design and verfication flow for the development of complex systems.  The first substantial implementation of this new META tool suite, named CyPhy, was during the first DARPA Fast Adaptable Next-Generation Ground Vehicle (FANG) Challenge for the design of the drivetrain and mobility system of an amphibious infantry fighting vehicle.

  • (META-FANG1) META tool suite integrating MetaL, DFT, VFT and additional feature sets as implemented in DARPA FANG 1 Challenge.