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T3: Support for Crosscutting Concerns: Is There Life Outside AOP?

Date Monday, March 22, 2004, afternoon (half day)
Presenters Alejandro Buchmann, Technische Universität Darmstadt
Mariano Cilia, Technische Universität Darmstadt
Level Advanced: Attendees should be familiar with current approaches to aspect-oriented programming.


The problem of dealing with crosscutting concerns is not new. Prior to the current interest in aspect-oriented programming (AOP), many different approaches to crosscutting concerns were devised, for example, in active databases and reflective middleware. In looking at this previous work, important questions arise:

  • Where are the similarities and differences between previous approaches and AOP?
  • Are there problems looming ahead that AOP has not yet addressed?
  • Can solutions developed by other communities be exploited in AOP?

This tutorial addresses these questions by drawing parallels to active databases and middleware. For instance, active databases are based on the popular event-condition-action (ECA) paradigm in which lightweight events are detected and reactions are triggered whenever a guarding condition is true. The notions of "event" and "reaction" in ECA rules are astonishingly similar to the notions of "pointcut" and "advice" in AOP. Research in the areas of active databases and middleware has developed solutions to such problems as dealing with rich sets of events, event composition, non-invasive event detection and signaling, multiple reactions to a single event, conflict resolution, transactions, delayed execution of reactions, consistency of ECA rule-sets, and dynamic activation and deactivation of rule-sets. These issues are now arising in AOP as more complex applications are tackled and more powerful AOP mechanisms are proposed.

In this tutorial we will present the problems, draw some parallels between paradigms and sketch the solutions that have been proposed by the active database and middleware communities. Attendees will learn about past and current research in these areas, and how solutions from those communities can be adopted for use in future AOP and AOSD systems.


Alejandro Buchmann has been a Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the Technische Universität Darmstadt (TUD) since 1991 and is responsible for the areas of databases and distributed systems. Alejandro received his PhD from the University of Texas, Austin, in 1980. He was an Assistant/Associate Professor from 1980 to 1986 at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and held positions as a senior researcher at Computer Corporation of America/XEROX Advanced Information Technology (1986-1989) and GTE Laboratories (1989-1991) before joining TUD. He is responsible for the graduate program in enabling technologies for e-commerce at TUD and is a cofounder of ITO (Information Technology transfer Office), a research center of TUD specializing in industrial research in middleware, ubiquitous computing, and end-to-end security. Alejandro's current research interests are in the areas of event-based and reactive systems, heterogeneous distributed systems, middleware, and new paradigms for data management and information processing.

Mariano Cilia holds a post-doctoral position in the Department of Computer Science at the Technische Universität Darmstadt. He graduated from UNICEN, Argentina in 1993 and received his MS degree from UNICAMP, Brazil in 1996. He received his PhD in computer science from the Technische Universität Darmstadt in August 2002, working on an active functionality service for open distributed heterogeneous environments. During his PhD research, Mariano was involved in cooperative projects with industry. He is now a visiting professor at the Faculty of Sciences, UNICEN, Argentina. His research interests include reactive functionality, aspect-oriented programming, event-driven systems, semantic data integration, data dissemination, and middleware.

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