French scientist behind Shanghai automated metro train receives honor


Jean-Raymond Abrial, a world-famous French computer scientist who is the enabler of Shanghai’s first driverless metro train, won the International Scientific and Technological Cooperation Award of the People’s Republic of China in Beijing on Jan. 9.

Of the five foreign scientists winning the honor at the Great Hall of the People, Abrial is the only one who cooperates with a Shanghai partner - ECNU.

Shanghai’s first automated metro train "1701", just arrived at Zhujiajiao depot in Qingpu recently, and is scheduled to be put on trial operation on Line 17 at yearend. 

The credit should be given to Abrial, who develops the industry-level safety-critical software systems for driverless train in partnership with ECNU’s School of Computer Science and Software Engineering.

A professor at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and a member of European Academy of Sciences, Abrial is the father of B-Method, a method of developing safety-critical software systems. The 78-year-old professor is also a pioneer in applying B-Method to develop industry-level safety-critical software. B-Method was firstly proposed by Abrial in the 1990s, and quickly became mathematical foundation of the formal development of dependable software. The method has been worldwide adopted and applied in the fields of industrial control system, and becomes a landmark technique for the safety assurance of industrial IT products.  

The technology has been operating in more than 20 cities worldwide, including New York, Paris and Barcelona.

But since the underground system of each country varies from the other, it is impractical for a country to copy the in-use safety-critical software system from others. 

Abrial has been cooperating with academician He Jifeng, dean of ECNU’s School of Software, since 2005, and conducting a wide and in-depth research ranging from theoretical foundation to industrial application. He was the first who introduced B-Method into China for the safety assurance of system-level industrial control software. For his effort, this technique that is monopolized by Western countries was broken, and the capabilities of developing China’s related products were drastically improved to internationally competitive level. 

In cities of Shanghai, Wuhan and Guangzhou, the metro line signal system that was tested and verified by Abrial’s B-Method has obtained CE certificate of German Product Safety GmbH, the highest safety criterion in the world. The method also helped the system developers reduce the cost by 40 percent and development period by 15 percent. 

During the past 10 years, Abrial spent two or three months in ECNU each year, living alone in an apartment no larger than 50 square meters. Dedicated to work, he liked to stay in the office to help students out with their queries, even on Christmas holiday. So far, he has educated more than 20 postgraduates in ECNU.

Source: Jiefang Daily


East China Normal University