Cyber-Physical Systems (TCPS)


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Call for Papers: Special Issue on Time for CPS


In Cyber-Physical System (CPS), computing entities (the cyber) control the evolution of physical processes over time. For many CPS, timing is crucial for safety, security, and responsiveness of the system behavior. CPS often require actions to be coordinated. As a result, CPS require a means of coordination along a common timeline. For example, in Power Systems, all PMUs are time synchronized via GPS signals because otherwise aligning data from various distributed PMUs will become impossible, and hence state estimated will be very wrong. With the increasing connectivity in modern CPS, the timing requirements are evolving, ranging from tight, picosecond synchronization requirements in power systems to timing accuracy and precision requirements on communication in wireless and low-power networks. Smart cities and connected vehicles pose new technological challenges and timing properties play an important role for coordination and security.

Despite the importance of time in CPS, there are significant gaps in specifying, reasoning about, verifying and testing the timing behavior of systems. In practice, timing in CPS is often an afterthought in the development process. While experienced domain experts might understand the desired timing behavior of the CPS, they often do not have a standardized, formal way of describing the timing requirements, let alone incorporating timing properties as part of the design. Even if a design is accompanied with well-defined timing requirements, it is difficult to verify whether a given design satisfies those requirements. Mining timing specifications from traces of events produced by the system may reveal discrepancies between the developer’s intent and the implementation.

Finally, the testing of a system for timing properties is difficult, requires expensive hardware and in-depth knowledge of how to use said hardware, and typically results in a very specific testbed setup targeted for the CPS at hand. Testbeds constructed that way are not reusable and a new setup must be implemented from scratch for the next system. Various advances have been made in providing time to CPS via clock synchronization technologies (NTP, IEEE 1588) and time aware networks (TSN). Research efforts have been dedicated towards approaches for programming with and reasoning about time. Precision Timed (PRET) machines have been proposed to counter the problem with widely available hardware that provides best average performance but orders of magnitude larger worst-case performance. However, research is needed to provide developers and users of CPS with a common language to describe the temporal behavior of a CPS, reason about time and events, formally verify timing properties, explicitly specify timing behavior of programs, as well as test the timing of a system.


Topics of interest to include, but are not limited to:
•  Formal representation of timing properties
•  Specification of timing requirements
•  Languages and models for programming with time
•  Novel clock synchronization techniques
•  Simulation of timed behavior in CPS
•  Verification of timed behavior
•  Testing of timing behavior of CPS
•  Testbeds for CPS
•  Mining timing specifications from existing CPS


Open for submissions in ScholarOne Manuscripts: Dec 15, 2018
Closed for submissions: June 15, 2019
Results of first round of reviews: Sept. 15, 2019
Submission of revised manuscripts: Nov.15, 2019
Results of second round of reviews: Jan 15, 2020
Publication materials due: Feb 15, 2020 


Prospective authors are invited to submit their manuscripts electronically after the “open for submissions” date, adhering to the ACM Transactions on Cyber-Physical Systems guidelines ( Please submit your papers through the online system ( and be sure to select the special issue name. Manuscripts should not be published or currently submitted for publication elsewhere. Please submit only full papers intended for review, not abstracts, to the ScholarOne portal. If requested, abstracts should be sent by e-mail to the Guest Editors directly.


Aviral Shrivastava,, Arizona State University
Patricia Derler,, National Instruments

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