The design and construction of the Reactive Systems Laboratory

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


Distributed real-time systems are notoriously difficult to correctly design and construct [Pam as 1985]. The fundamental principles of concurrency, deadline driven scheduling, and reaction to external stimuli which underlie such systems are inherently complex. This difficulty is further exacerbated when applications based on these principles are distributed over a network. Academic instruction in this domain is challenging: while theoretical issues can be taught with traditional "pencil and paper" techniques, real-time programming skills require experience that can be best provided by a laboratory. To this end, the Computer Science Department at Virginia Tech created and built a laboratory, known as the Reactive Systems Laboratory (RSL), specifically designed to provide these practical experiences. This paper documents the decisions, designs, and equipment used to build this laboratory. Additionally, the low-level software systems required to operate the RSL are discussed. Finally, future directions for the laboratory are considered and some conclusions are drawn based on usage to-date.



Distributed real-time systems