Dynamic Self-Assembly of Hierarchical Software Structures/Systems

Gordon C. Osbourn and Ann M. Bouchard

We present initial results on achieving synthesis of complex software systems via a biophysics-emulating, dynamic selfassembly scheme. This approach offers novel constructs for constructing large hierarchical software systems and reusing parts of them. Sets of software building blocks actively participate in the construction and subsequent modification of the larger-scale programs of which they are a part. The building blocks interact through a software analog of selective protein-protein bonding. Self-assembly generates hierarchical modules (including both data and executables); creates software execution pathways; and concurrently executes code via the formation and release of activitytriggering bonds. Hierarchical structuring is enabled through encapsulants that isolate populations of building block binding sites. The encapsulated populations act as larger-scale building blocks for the next hierarchy level. Encapsulant populations are dynamic, as their contents can move in and out. Such movement changes the populations of interacting sites and also modifies the software execution. "External overrides", analogous to protein phosphorylation, temporarily switch off undesired subsets of behaviors (code execution, data access/modification) of other structures. This provides a novel abstraction mechanism for code reuse. We present an implemented example of dynamic selfassembly and present several alternative strategies for specifying goals and guiding the self-assembly process.

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