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Dr Amel Bennaceur

Amel Bennaceur

Profile summary

Professional biography

I am a Lecturer in Computing at the Open University since April 2016. I was previously a Research Associate in the Department of Computing at the Open University and  a visiting lecturer at City University London. Currently, I am investigating the area of adaptive security and privacy. The goal is to exploit the digital devices available in the environment in order to  meet security requirements in the face of change.

I completed my PhD in July 2013 under the supervision of Valérie Issarny at Inria. My thesis is entitled “Dynamic Synthesis of Connectors in Pervasive Environments” and it takes part in the Connect Project. During my PhD, I defined an approach and provided a tool for achieving interoperability in software systems on the fly in an automated manner.

The goal was to make it possible for a computer to answer, autonomously, questions like:

  • How can I chat with my friend on Yahoo! using my enterprise messaging service?
  • How can I open my Google Docs files using the Finder application on my Mac? 
  • How can a company use the same application to order products from different providers?
  • How can the command and control centre of one country effectively use the resources offered by another country in emergency situations?

Before starting my PhD, I was a junior engineer at ARLES Team and worked on the iBICOOP middleware. I also received my Magistère degree in 2009 at Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Informatique (ex INI); the report was entitled “Towards a Peer-to-Peer System based on Distributed Compact Trie Hashing”. It was the continuation of my engineering degree subject “Integration of a Mobile Client to CTH*”, received in 2006 at ESI. My Supervisor was Prof. Djamel-Eddine Zegour

Research interests

My research methodology is centred around three principles:

Theory is the foundation. I consider that formal methods and mathematical techniques provide us with the necessary tools not only to better understand our world but also to develop new methods to master it.
Practice is essential. Turning the theoretical results into real software is paramount. I always thought that it is important (and also fun) to get my hands dirty in order to implement my ideas, build systems and prototypes, and experiment new scenarios and cases.
- Be truly interdisciplinary. While my education and research is primarily in computer science, I am always keen in exploring ideas from other disciplines both inside and outside computer science.

Collaborative Adaptive Security

Security is concerned with the protection of assets from intentional harm. Secure systems provide capabilities that enable such protection to satisfy some security requirements. In a world increasingly populated with mobile and ubiquitous computing technology, the scope and boundary of security systems can be uncertain and can change. A single functional component, or even multiple components individually, are often insufficient to satisfy complex security requirements on their own. Collaborative adaptive security, which I am currently investigating, aims to exploit the selection and deployment of multiple, potentially heterogeneous, software-intensive components to collaborate in order to meet security requirements in the face of changes in the environment, changes in assets under protection and their values, and the discovery of new threats and vulnerabilities.

Dynamic Synthesis of Mediators: From Theory to Practice

During my PhD, I defined an approach for the automated synthesis and deployment of mediators in order to enable heterogeneous software components, with compatible functionalities, to interoperate. The synthesised mediators reconcile the differences between the interfaces of the components and coordinate their behaviours from the application down to the middleware layers. I validated the approach through the development of a tool, MICS, and its experimentation with a number of case studies ranging from heterogeneous chat applications to emergency management in systems of systems.  These case studies serve demonstrating the viability and efficiency of the automated synthesis of mediators to enable software components to interoperate in extremely dynamic and heterogeneous contexts such as ubiquitous environments or systems of systems.

Research Interests

Distributed computing: middleware, interoperability, runtime mediation, ubiquitous computing, SOC, mobile networking, semantics-based technologies
Software engineering: software composition and reuse, process algebra, behavioural analysis, machine learning, models@runtime

Externally funded projects

SAUSE: Secure, Adaptive, Usable Software Engineering
RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Co-investigator01 Apr 201831 Mar 2023EPSRC Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

In the last decade, the role of software engineering has changed rapidly and radically. Globalisation and mobility of people and services, pervasive computing, and ubiquitous connectivity through the Internet have disrupted traditional software engineering boundaries and practices. People and services are no longer bound by physical locations. Computational devices are no longer bound to the devices that host them. Communication, in its broadest sense, is no longer bounded in time or place. The Software Engineering & Design (SEAD) group at the Open University (OU) is leading software engineering research in this new reality that requires a paradigm shift in the way software is developed and used. This platform grant will grow and sustain strategic, multi-disciplinary, crosscutting research activities that underpin the advances in software engineering required to build the pervasive and ubiquitous computing systems that will be tightly woven into the fabric of a complex and changing socio-technical world. In addition to sustaining and growing the SEAD group at the OU and supporting its continued collaboration with the Social Psychology research group at the University of Exeter, the SAUSE platform will also enable the group to have lasting impact across several application domains such as healthcare, aviation, policing, and sustainability. The grant will allow the team to enhance the existing partner networks in these areas and to develop impact pathways for their research, going beyond the scope and lifetime of individual research projects.


Feature-driven Mediator Synthesis: Supporting Collaborative Security in the Internet of Things (2018-07-18)
Bennaceur, Amel; Tun, Thein Than; Bandara, Arosha K.; Yu, Yijun and Nuseibeh, Bashar
ACM Transactions on Cyber-Physical Systems, 2, Article 21(3)

A unifying perspective on protocol mediation: interoperability in the Future Internet (2015-06-13)
Bennaceur, Amel; Andriescu, Emil; Speicys Cardoso, Roberto and Issarny, Valérie
Journal of Internet Services and Applications, 6(12)

Automated synthesis of mediators to support component interoperability (2015-03-18)
Bennaceur, Amel and Issarny, Valérie
IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, 41(3) (pp. 221-240)

The role of models@run.time in supporting on-the-fly interoperability (2013-03-01)
Bencomo, N.; Bennaceur, A.; Grace, P.; Blair, G. and Issarny, V.
Computing, 95(3) (pp. 167-190)

Requirements Engineering (2019-02-25)
Bennaceur, Amel; Tun, Thein Than; Yu, Yijun and Nuseibeh, Bashar
In: Cha, Sungdeok (Steve); Taylor, Richard N. and Kang, Kyo C. eds. Handbook of Software Engineering (pp. 51-92)
ISBN : 978-3-030-00261-9 | Publisher : Springer

The Many Facets of Mediation: A Requirements-driven Approach for Trading-off Mediation Solutions (2016-08-11)
Bennaceur, A. and Nuseibeh, B.
In: Mistrík, Ivan; Ali, Nour; Kazman, Rick; Grundy, John and Schmerl, Bradley eds. Managing Trade-offs in Adaptable Software Architectures (pp. 299-322)
ISBN : 9780128028551 | Publisher : Elsevier

Mechanisms for leveraging models at runtime in self-adaptive software (2014)
Bennaceur, Amel; France, Robert B.; Tamburrelli, Giordano; Vogel, Thomas; Mosterman, Pieter J.; Cazzola, Walter; Costa, Fábio M.; Pierantonio, Alfonso; Tichy, Matthias; Akşit, Mehmet; Emmanuelson, Pär; Gang, Huang; Georgantas, Nikolaos and Redlich, David
In: Bencomo, Nelly; France, Robert B.; Cheng, Betty H. and Assmann, Uwe eds. Models@run.time: Foundations, Applications, and Roadmaps. Lecture Notes in Computer Science (8378) (pp. 19-46)
ISBN : 978-3-319-08914-0 | Publisher : Springer | Published : Cham

Composing distributed systems: overcoming the interoperability challenge (2013)
Issarny, Valérie and Bennaceur, Amel
In: Elena, Giachino; Reiner, Hähnle; Frank, de Boer and Marcello, Bosangue eds. Formal Methods for Components and Objects. Lecture Notes in Computer Science (7866) (pp. 168-196)
ISBN : 978-3-642-40614-0 | Publisher : Springer | Published : Berlin

Middleware-layer connector synthesis: beyond state of the art in middleware interoperability (2011)
Issarny, Valérie; Bennaceur, Amel and Bromberg, Yérom-David
In: Bernardo, Marco and Issarny, Valérie eds. Formal Methods for Eternal Networked Software Systems: 11th International School on Formal Methods for the Design of Computer, Communication and Software Systems, SFM 2011, Bertinoro, Italy, June 13-18, 2011. Advanced Lectures. Lecture Notes in Computer Science (6659) (pp. 217-255)
ISBN : 978-3-642-21454-7 | Publisher : Springer | Published : Berlin Heidelberg

The CONNECT architecture (2011)
Grace, Paul; Georgantas, Nikolaos; Bennaceur, Amel; Blair, Gordon S.; Chauvel, Franck; Issarny, Valérie; Paolucci, Massimo; Saadi, Rachid; Souville, Betrand and Sykes, Daniel
In: Bernardo, Marco and Issarny, Valérie eds. Formal Methods for Eternal Networked Software Systems. Lecture Notes in Computer Science (6659) (pp. 27-52)
ISBN : 978-3-642-21455-4 | Publisher : Springer | Published : Berlin

How are you feeling? Using Tangibles to Log the Emotions of Older Adults (2020-02)
Gooch, Daniel; Mehta, Vikram; Price, Blaine; Mccormick, Ciaran; Bandara, Arosha; Bennaceur, Amel; Bennasar, Mohamed; Stuart, Avelie; Clare, Linda; Levine, Mark; Cohen, Jessica and Nuseibeh, Bashar
In : Fourteenth International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction (TEI ’20) (9-12 Feb 2020, Sydney, Australia) (pp. 31-43)

OASIS: Weakening User Obligations for Security-critical Systems (2020)
Tun, Thein Than; Bennaceur, Amel and Nuseibeh, Bashar
In : 28th IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference (31 Aug - 4 Sep 2020)

Modelling and Analysing Resilient Cyber-Physical Systems (2019)
Bennaceur, Amel; Ghezzi, Carlo; Tei, Kenji; Kehrer, Timo; Weyns, Danny; Calinescu, Radu; Dustdar, Schahram; Honiden, Shinichi; Ishikawa, Fuyuki; Jin, Zhi; Kramer, Jeffrey; Litoiu, Marin; Loreti, Michele; Moreno, Gabriel; Muller, Hausi; Nenzi, Laura; Nuseibeh, Bashar; Pasquale, Liliana; Reisig, Wolfgang; Schmidt, Heinz; Tsigkanos, Christos and Zhao, Haiyan Zhao
In : 14th Symposium on Software Engineering for Adaptive and Self-Managing Systems 2019 (25-26 May 2019, Montréal, Canada)

Won’t Take No for an Answer: Resource-driven Requirements Adaptation (2019)
Bennaceur, Amel; Zisman, Andrea; Mccormick, Ciaran; Barthaud, Danny and Nuseibeh, Bashar
In : 14th Symposium on Software Engineering for Adaptive and Self-Managing Systems 2019 (25-26 May 2019, Montréal, Canada)

Measuring the variation and distribution of ozone in the martian atmosphere (2019)
Brown, Megan; Patel, Manish; Lewis, Stephen and Bennaceur, Amel
In : 8th Conference of Astrobiology Society of Britain (25-26 Apr 2019, Newcastle University)

A Sensor Platform for Non-invasive Remote Monitoring of Older Adults in Real Time (2019)
Bennasar, Mohamed; Mccormick, Ciaran; Price, Blaine; Gooch, Daniel; Stuart, Avelie; Mehta, Vikram; Clare, Linda; Bennaceur, Amel; Cohen, Jessica; Bandara, Arosha; Levine, Mark and Nuseibeh, Bashar
In : Innovation in Medicine and Healthcare Systems, and Multimedia (Jun 2019) (pp. 125-135)

Issues in Gender Diversity and Equality in the UK (2018-05-28)
Bennaceur, A.; Cano, A.; Georgieva, L.; Kiran, M.; Salama, M. and Yadav, P.
In : 2018 ACM/IEEE 1st International Workshop on Gender Equality in Software Engineering (28 May 2018, Gothenburg, Sweden) (pp. 5-9)

Agree to Disagree: Security Requirements Are Different, But Mechanisms For Security Adaptation Are Not (2018-05-28)
Tun, Thein and Bennaceur, Amel
In : 13th International Symposium on Software Engineering for Adaptive and Self-Managing Systems (28-29 May 2018, Gothenburg, Sweden) (pp. 194-195)

Machine Learning for Software Engineering: Models, Methods, and Applications (2018)
Meinke, Karl and Bennaceur, Amel
In : 40th International Conference on Software Engineering: Technical Briefings (Part of ICSE 2018) (27 May - 03 Jun 2018, Gothenburg, Sweden) (pp. 548-549)

Feed me, Feed me: An Exemplar for Engineering Adaptive Software (2016)
Bennaceur, Amel; Mccormick, Ciaran; García Galán, Jesús; Perera, Charith; Smith, Andrew; Zisman, Andrea and Nuseibeh, Bashar
In : 11th International Symposium on Software Engineering for Adaptive and Self-Managing Systems (16-17 May 2016)

Layered connectors: revisiting the formal basis of architectural connection for complex distributed systems (2014-08)
Bennaceur, Amel and Issarny, Valérie
In : ECSA'14 - The 8th European Conference on Software Architecture (25-29 Aug 2014, Vienna, Austria)

Requirements-driven mediation for collaborative security (2014)
Bennaceur, Amel; Bandara, Arosha; Jackson, Michael; Liu, Wei; Montrieux, Lionel; Tun, Thein; Yu, Yijun and Nuseibeh, Bashar
In : SEAMS'14 - The 9th International Symposium on Software Engineering for Adaptive and Self-Managing Systems (2-3 Jun 2014, Hyderabad)

Automated mediator synthesis: combining behavioural and ontological reasoning (2013)
Bennaceur, Amel; Chilton, Chris; Isberner, Malte and Jonsson, Bengt
In : SEFM - 11th International Conference on Software Engineering and Formal Methods (25-27 Sep 2013, Madrid) (pp. 274-288)

Automatic service categorisation through machine learning in emergent middleware (2013)
Bennaceur, Amel; Issarny, Valérie; Johansson, Richard; Moschitti, Alessandro; Spalazzese, Romina and Sykes, Daniel
In : 10th International Symposium on Formal Methods for Components and Objects (FMCO 2011) (3-5 Oct 2011, Turin) (pp. 133-149)

Machine learning for emergent middleware (2013)
Bennaceur, Amel; Issarny, Valérie; Sykes, Daniel; Howar, Falk; Isberner, Malte; Steffen, Bernhard; Johansson, Richard and Moschitti, Alessandro
In : Second International Workshop on Trustworthy Eternal Systems via Evolving Software, Data and Knowledge (28 Aug 2012, Montpellier) (pp. 16-29)

Achieving interoperability through semantics-based technologies: the instant messaging case (2012)
Bennaceur, Amel; Issarny, Valérie; Spalazzese, Romina and Tyagi, Shashank
In : ISWC 2012 - 11th International Semantic Web Conference (11-15 Nov 2012, Boston) (pp. 17-33)

Inferring affordances using learning techniques (2012)
Bennaceur, Amel; Johansson, Richard; Moschitti, Alessandro; Spalazzese, Romina; Sykes, Daniel; Saadi, Rachid and Issarny, Valérie
In : EternalS'11: International Workshop on Eternal Systems (3 May 2011, Budapest) (pp. 79-87)

The role of ontologies in emergent middleware: supporting interoperability in complex distributed systems (2011)
Blair, Gordon S.; Bennaceur, Amel; Georgantas, Nikolaos; Grace, Paul; Issarny, Valérie; Nundloll, Vatsala and Paolucci, Massimo
In : Middleware 2011 - ACM/IFIP/USENIX 12th International Middleware Conference (12-16 Dec 2011, Lisbon) (pp. 410-430)

Towards an architecture for runtime interoperability (2010)
Bennaceur, Amel; Blair, Gordon; Chauvel, Franck; Gang, Huang; Georgantas, Nikolaos; Grace, Paul; Howar, Falk; Inverardi, Paola; Issarny, Valrie; Paolucci, Massimo; Pathak, Animesh; Spalazzese, Romina; Steffen, Bernhard and Souville, Bertrand
In : ISoLA 2010 - 4th International Symposium On Leveraging Applications of Formal Methods, Verification and Validation (18-21 Oct 2011, Heraclion, Crete) (pp. 206-220)

The iBICOOP middleware: enablers and services for emerging pervasive computing environments (2009)
Bennaceur, Amel; Singh, Pushpendra; Raverdy, Pierre-Guillaume and Issarny, Valerie
In : PerWare 2009 IEEE Middleware Support for Pervasive Computing Workshop (9-13 Mar 2009, Galveston, TX)