Lui Sha

New Research Project on Autonomy: Virtual Sully

It’s called the “Miracle on the Hudson.” On January 15, 2009, U.S. Airways Flight 1549 left LaGuardia Airport in New York City en route to Seattle via Charlotte. Shortly after takeoff, the plane hit birds and lost two engines. Faced with few options, the captain, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, took elusive action and landed the plane in the Hudson River, saving the lives of the 155 people on board. Image result for Miracles on Hudson

While Sullenberger’s experience – a fighter pilot and training officer with the United States Air Force and 30 years as a commercial airline pilot – no doubt was a factor in his quick decision making, not all passengers are lucky enough to have that experience guiding their flights.

Through a National Science Foundation grant, a team of researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Grainger College of Engineering and the Georgia Institute of Technology are working on an advanced autopilot, which will autonomously evaluate unforeseen circumstances, take the best course of action, and land the plane safely.

Positions Available:  One Postdoc and one PhD

Biography: Lui Sha graduated with Phd. from CMU in 1985. He worked at the Software Engineering Institute from 1986 to 1998. He joined UIUC in 1998. Currently, he is Donald B. Gillies Chair Professor of Computer Science, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He was named Tau Beta Pi Daniel C. Drucker Eminent Faculty in 2017. He is a Fellow of ACM and IEEE and a recipient of IEEE’s Simon Ramo medal, which honors exceptional achievement in systems engineering and systems science.  IEEE Medals are the highest distinctions that the IEEE presents.

Sha has led the creation of a comprehensive system engineering approach to design and build complex real-time systems, advancing the field from one using hand-crafted, trial-by-error processes into one that is a scientific engineering discipline. The approach, called Generalized Rate Monotonic Scheduling (GRMS) theory, developed with John Lehoczky and Raj Rajkumar, provides predictability, efficiency, and flexibility for scheduling complex concurrent real-time tasks. GRMS has become the best practice of the real-time computing industry, and is regularly taught in real time computing classes. Sha’s IEEE Fellow citation states, “for technical leadership and research contributions which enabled the transformation of real-time computing practice from an ad hoc process to an engineering process based on analytic methods.”

From 2015-2017, Sha was appointed by Administrator of NASA, Charles Bolden, to the Aeronautics Committee of the NASA Advisory Council. He was selected for this council based largely his contribution to real-time computing and to complexity reduction and control architectures. The Simplex architecture allows the safe use of difficult or unverifiable complex control software. Its principles have been successfully used to improve the stability advanced avionics systems. Sha and his team invented the Physically Asynchronous Logically Synchronous (PALS) architecture. Steven P. Miller of Rockwell Collins Inc. demonstrated that, using PALS architecture, the model checking time of a dual redundant flight control system dropped from over 35 hours to less than 30 seconds.  Sha and Miller’s team received the 2009 David Lubkowski Award for the Advancement of Digital Avionics from American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Examples of Research Impacts

He is a widely cited author in real-time and embedded computing community. His work contributions to the development high technology systems include:

  • Global Positioning Satellite: Contributions to the worldwide navigation. “The navigation payload software for the next block of Global Positioning System upgrade recently completed testing. …  This design would have been difficult or impossible prior to the development of rate monotonic theory”, L.  Doyle, and J. Elzey “Successful Use of Rate Monotonic Theory on A Formidable Real-Time System, technical report, p.1, ITT, Aerospace Communication Division, 1993.
  • International Space Station: “Through the development of Rate Monotonic Scheduling, we now have a system that will allow [Space Station] Freedom’s computers to budget their time, to choose between a variety of tasks, and decide not only which one to do first but how much time to spend in the process”, Aaron Cohen, Deputy Administrator of NASA, October 1992 (p. 3), Charting The Future: Challenges and Promises Ahead of Space Exploration.
  •  Mars Pathfinder:  “When was the last time you saw a room of people cheer a group of computer science theorists for their significant practical contribution to advancing human knowledge? 🙂  It was quite a moment.  … For the record, the paper was L. Sha, R. Rajkumar, and J. P. Lehoczky. Priority Inheritance Protocols: An Approach to Real-Time Synchronization. In IEEE Transactions on Computers, vol. 39, pp. 1175-1185, Sep. 1990.” reported by Dr. Michael Jones in 19.49.html

Over the course of his career, he has also served as a member of the National Academy of Science’s committee on Certifiably Dependable Software, the peer review panel of Safety Critical Avionics Systems Branch at NASA’s Langley Research Center, and the NSF’s Planning Committee on Cyber Physical Systems on high assurance medical devices.



Current Projects

Real Time Multicore Computing

  • Single Core Equivalence: Each core in a multicore chip can be used and certified as if it were a single core chip, allowing
  • Virtual Single Core: A set of cores of a multicore chip can be used as if it were a large single core chip.  The recent research focus on modern high performance CPU-GPU real-time computing architecture.
  • Real-time Virtual Synchrony: A networked avionic system can be programed as if it were a perfectly synchronized system under the Physically asynchronous Logically Synchronous (PALS) protocol. For dual redundant flight control system, the verification time without PALS is over 35 hours. Using PALS, the verification time dropped to less than 30 seconds, winning the David Lubkowski award for the Advancement of Digital Avionics from American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Medical Best Practice Guidance (GPS) Systems

In 1999, the challenge of preventable medical errors was first raised in a landmark study by the American Medical Association: To Err is Human. This study reported that “at least 44,000 people, and perhaps as many as 98,000 people, die in hospitals each year as a result of medical errors that could have been prevented.” In 2013 Journal of Patient Safety reported that more than 400,000 people die every year because of preventable medical errors.   The negative economic impact was estimated at a colossal $1 trillion per year in a US Senate hearing in 2014.

Preventable medical errors are not a medical knowledge problem. It is a medical cyber-physical system challenge in the form of medical information and workflow management challenge, where the medical devices, doctors, nurses, and technicians have to work together flawlessly in real-time. Like how GPS revolutionized navigation, Medical Best Practice System will revolutionize clinical practices.

Currently, we are working with Carle Foundation Foundation Hospital and with OSF Illinois Children’s Hospital in the research and development of medical best practice systems.  The Cardiac Arrest Resuscitation Guidance System has entered Phase II evaluation at Carle ICU. We also completed the initial prototypes of Sepsis Guidance System.

Cardiac Arrest Resuscitation Guidance System Review

Medical staff with the assistance of the guidance systems will achieve:

  • More rapid and accurate identification of critical changes of patient conditions,
  • More rapid and consistent entry of vital information
  • Fit into current clinical workflow,
  • Stricter adherence to up-to-date standardized medical treatment guidelines and protocols,
  • Improved team effectiveness, and
  • Reduced medical errors from an altered sense of time and memory lapses (due to high stress).

Carle Foundation Hospital: Karen White, M.D., Vasantha Reddi, Ph.D.

Pediatric Sepsis Guidance System Prototype Review

Computerized Guidance System will:

  • Assist clinicians with early detection of pediatric sepsis by providing real-time assistance with clinical management of pediatric sepsis
  • Facilitate continued assessment of septic children while providing feedback on next steps in management and Improve adherence to accepted practice standards for management of pediatric sepsis
  • Early vascular access and timeliness of fluid administration
  • Improved rates of antibiotic administration within 60 minutes of presentation
  • Serve as resource to teach less experienced clinicians and clinicians-in-training important tenants of pediatric sepsis management
  • Serve as a tool for simulation-based training and in situ training

OSF Children’s Hospital of Illinois & JUMP:  Richard Pearl, M.D., Jonathon Gehlbach, M.D.

Positions Available

  • Part-time jobs in the lab: software development and/or hardware device interfaces


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