Author ORCID Identifier

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Electrical & Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Carl R. Elks

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert H. Klenke

Third Advisor

Dr. Alen Docef

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Tim Bakker

Fifth Advisor

Dr. Fadi Obeidat


Digital Instrumentation and Control (I&C) systems in safety-related applications of next generation industrial automation systems require high levels of resilience against different fault classes. One of the more essential concepts for achieving this goal is the notion of resilient and survivable digital I&C systems. In recent years, self-healing concepts based on biological physiology have received attention for the design of robust digital systems. However, many of these approaches have not been architected from the outset with safety in mind, nor have they been targeted for the automation community where a significant need exists. This dissertation presents a new self-healing digital I&C architecture called BioSymPLe, inspired from the way nature responds, defends and heals: the stem cells in the immune system of living organisms, the life cycle of the living cell, and the pathway from Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) to protein. The BioSymPLe architecture is integrating biological concepts, fault tolerance techniques, and operational schematics for the international standard IEC 61131-3 to facilitate adoption in the automation industry. BioSymPLe is organized into three hierarchical levels: the local function migration layer from the top side, the critical service layer in the middle, and the global function migration layer from the bottom side. The local layer is used to monitor the correct execution of functions at the cellular level and to activate healing mechanisms at the critical service level. The critical layer is allocating a group of functional B cells which represent the building block that executes the intended functionality of critical application based on the expression for DNA genetic codes stored inside each cell. The global layer uses a concept of embryonic stem cells by differentiating these type of cells to repair the faulty T cells and supervising all repair mechanisms. Finally, two industrial applications have been mapped on the proposed architecture, which are capable of tolerating a significant number of faults (transient, permanent, and hardware common cause failures CCFs) that can stem from environmental disturbances and we believe the nexus of its concepts can positively impact the next generation of critical systems in the automation industry.


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