University of Minnesota
Software Engineering Center

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Mats Heimdahl

Photo of Mats Heimdahl
Computer Science and Engineering Department Head
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Office Location: 
Kenneth H Keller Hall room 6-201

M.S. Computer Science and Engineering from the Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden, 1988.

Ph.D. Computer Science, University of California at Irvine, 1994.


Professor Mats Heimdahl specializes in software engineering and safety critical systems. He is the director of the University of Minnesota Software Engineering Center (UMSEC).

Heimdahl is the recipient of the National Science Foundation's CAREER award, a McKnight Land-Grant Professorship and the McKnight Presidential Fellow award at the University of Minnesota, and the University of Minnesota Award for Outstanding Contributions to Post-Baccalaureate, Graduate, and Professional Education.


Software is increasingly involved in our lives; software controls physical systems ranging from microwave ovens and watches to nuclear power plants, aircraft, and cars. Computer-related failures can, in many of these applications, have catastrophic effects.

My research group, the Critical Systems Research Group (CriSys), is conducting research in software engineering and is investigating methods and tools to help us develop software with predictable behavior free from defects.

Research in this area spans all aspects of system development ranging from concept formation and requirements specification, through design and implementation, to testing and maintenance. In particular, we are currently investigating model-based software development for critical systems.

Specifically, we are focusing on how to use various static verification techniques to assure that software requirements models possess desirable properties, how to correctly generate production code from software requirements models, how to validate models, and how to effectively use the models in the testing process.


Software engineering and safety critical systems.

Recent Publications

An Integrated Development Environment Prototyping Safety Critical Systems

@InProceedings{Thompson99:nimbus-overview, author = {Jeffrey M. Thompson and Mats P.E. Heimdahl}, title = {An Integrated Development Environment Prototyping Safety Critical Systems}, booktitle = {Tenth IEEE International Workshop on Rapid System Prototyping (RSP) 99}, pages = {172-177}, year = {1999}, month = {June} }

Experiences From Specifying the TCAS II Requirements Using RSML

TCAS II (Traffic alert and Collision Avoidance System II) is an avionics system required on all commercial aircraft with more than 30 passengers. In 1990, FAA deemed the Minimal Operational Performance Standard (MOPS) for TCAS II, expressed in plain English and low-level pseudocode, unacceptable as a basis for government certification.


In the system engineering of complex systems that include digital automation, the most vexing and potentially costly problems arise in the early stages of development. Few adequate tools exist to assist in developing system requirements and architectures and translating the system requirements to software requirements. Serious unsolved problems also exist at the other end of the lifecycle in changing or upgrading automated control tasks without introducing errors.