Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Skjellum, Anthony

Committee Member

Hansen, Eric A.

Committee Member

Reese, Donna S.

Committee Member

Kanevsky, Arkady

Committee Member

Bridges, Susan M.

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

MSU Only Indefinitely

Document Type

Dissertation - Campus Access Only


Computer Science

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


James Worth Bagley College of Engineering


Department of Computer Science and Engineering


Personal computer desktops, and other standardized computer architectures are optimized to provide the best performance for frequently occurring conditions. Real-time systems designed using worst-case analysis for such architectures under-utilize the hardware. This shortcoming provides the motivation for scheduling algorithms that can improve overall utilization by accounting for inherent uncertainty in task execution duration. A real-time task dispatcher must perform its function with constant scheduling overhead. Given the NP-hard nature of the problem of scheduling non-preemptible tasks, dispatch decisions for such systems cannot be made in real-time. This argues for a hybrid architecture that includes an offline policy generator, and an online dispatcher. This dissertation proposes, and demonstrates a hybrid operating system architecture that enables cost-optimal task dispatch on Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) systems. This is achieved by explicitly accounting for the stochastic nature of each task?s execution time, and dynamically learning the system behavior. Decision Theoretic Scheduling (DTS) provides the framework for scheduling under uncertainty. The real-time scheduling problem is cast as a Markov Decision Process (MDP). An offline policy generator discovers an epsilon-optimal policy using value iteration with model learning. For the selected representation of state, action, model, and rewards, the policydiscovered using value iteration is proved to have a probability of failure that is less than any arbitrarily small user-specified value. The PromisQoS operating system architecture demonstrates a practical implementation of the proposed approach. PromisQoS is a Linux based platform that supports concurrent execution of time-based (preemptible and non-preemptible) real-time tasks, and best-effort processes on an interactive workstation. Several examples demonstrate that model learning, and scheduling under uncertainty enables PromisQoS to achieve better CPU utilization than other scheduling methods. Real-time task sets that solve practical problems, such as a Laplace solver, matrix multiplication, and transpose, demonstrate the robustness and correctness of PromisQoS design and implementation. This pioneering application demonstrates the feasibility of MDP based scheduling for real-time tasks in practical systems. It also opens avenues for further research into the use of such DTS techniques in real-time system design.