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Syllabus for

Academic year
DAT270 - Dependable computer systems
Syllabus adopted 2011-02-24 by Head of Programme (or corresponding)
Owner: MPCSN
7,5 Credits
Grading: TH - Five, Four, Three, Not passed
Education cycle: Second-cycle
Major subject: Computer Science and Engineering, Information Technology

Teaching language: English

Course module   Credit distribution   Examination dates
Sp1 Sp2 Sp3 Sp4 Summer course No Sp
0111 Laboratory 1,5 c Grading: UG   1,5 c    
0211 Examination 6,0 c Grading: TH   6,0 c   19 Oct 2011 pm V,  09 Jan 2012 pm V,  21 Aug 2012 pm V

In programs



Professor  Johan Karlsson


For single subject courses within Chalmers programmes the same eligibility requirements apply, as to the programme(s) that the course is part of.

Course specific prerequisites

No formal requirements, but students are expected to have basic knowledge in computer engineering, programming and probability theory.


The course gives an introduction to dependable computing with an emphasis on system-level design of fault tolerant systems. Dependability and fault tolerance are becoming increasingly important in a wide range of computer applications. Examples of such application areas include safety-critical control systems for road vehicles, airplanes and medical devices, and business-critical systems for e-commerce and financial transactions.

Learning outcomes (after completion of the course the student should be able to)

* Formulate dependability requirements for computer systems used in business-, safety- and mission-critical applications.
* Describe the structure and principles of commonly used system architectures for fault-tolerant computers.
* Perform probabilistic dependability analysis of computer systems using fault-trees, reliability block diagrams, time-continuous Markov chains and stochastic Petri nets.
* Describe principles and properties of techniques for error detection, error masking and system recovery.
* Master the terminology of dependable computing
* Describe basic concepts in life-cycle models and standards employed in the development of safety-critical systems.


The course focuses on design and analysis of fault-tolerant computer systems. It also gives an overview of development processes, life-cycle models and standards used in the development of safety-critical systems.
The content can be divided into five areas:
1. Terminology and definitions: Includes terms such as dependability, reliability, maintainability, availability and safety, taxonomies for dependable systems, fault and failure models, etc.
2. Design techniques for error detection and fault tolerance: Hardware redundancy: triple modular redundancy (TMR), dual modular redundancy (DMR), hot and cold standby systems, hybrid redundancy, forward and backward recovery, etc. Software redundancy: N-version programming, recovery blocks and run-time assertions. Information redundancy: basic principles for error correcting codes. Time redundancy: Methods for detecting and tolerating transient faults. Fault-tolerance in distributed systems: time-triggered systems, redundancy management, consensus, byzantine failures, etc.
3. Dependability analysis of computer systems: Reliability block diagrams, fault-trees, Markov chain models, failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA), fault tree analysis (FTA), fault injection, etc. Includes two laboratory classes in which Markov chain models and stochastic Petri nets are used to analyze fault-tolerant systems. The analysis is done using a special computer program.
4. Development processes: lifecycle models, hazard analysis, risk analysis, safety case, the IEC 61508 and ISO26262 standards, etc.
5. System examples: Fault-tolerant systems from areas such as space, aviation, automotive, telecommunication and transaction processing are described, some by guest lecturers from industry.


Lectures, exercises and two laboratory classes.


Neil Storey, Safety-Critical Computer Systems, Prentice Hall, ISBN 0-201-42787-7. Compendium, reprints of articles, compendium of exercises.


Written exam. Participation in laboratory classes. Laboratory reports.

Page manager Published: Mon 28 Nov 2016.