Distributed intelligent MEMS: A survey and a real-time programming framework

Junbin Liang, Jiannong Cao, Rui Liu, Tao Li

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


In recent years, distributed intelligent microelectromechanical systems (DiMEMSs) have appeared as a new form of distributed embedded systems. DiMEMSs contain thousands or millions of removable autonomous devices, which will collaborate with each other to achieve the final target of the whole system. Programming such systems is becoming an extremely difficult problem. The difficulty is due not only to their inherent nature of distributed collaboration, mobility, large scale, and limited resources of their devices (e.g., in terms of energy, memory, communication, and computation) but also to the requirements of real-time control and tolerance for uncertainties such as inaccurate actuation and unreliable communications. As a result, existing programming languages for traditional distributed and embedded systems are not suitable for DiMEMSs. In this article, we first introduce the origin and characteristics of DiMEMSs and then survey typical implementations of DiMEMSs and related research hotspots. Finally, we propose a real-time programming framework that can be used to design new real-time programming languages for DiMEMSs. The framework is composed of three layers: a real-time programming model layer, a compilation layer, and a runtime system layer. The design challenges and requirements of these layers are investigated. The framework is then discussed in further detail and suggestions for future research are given.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20
JournalACM Computing Surveys
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016


  • Autonomous devices
  • Distributed collaboration
  • Distributed intelligent MEMS
  • Programming framework
  • Real-time programming language

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science


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