Priority scheduling for multi-function apertures with hard- and soft-time constraints
March 6, 2021
A multi-function aperture (MFA) is an antenna array that supports multiple RF signals for a diverse set of activities. An MFA may support multiple activities simultaneously if they are compatible, and platforms may utilize multiple MFAs to meet field-of-regard and frequency range requirements. Efficient MFA utilization requires a Resource Manager (RM) that routes signals to the correct MFA based on field-of-view and other requirements, and schedules MFA access to resolve conflicts based on request priority. An efficient RM scheduler time-interleaves requests from different activities as needed. Requested access events may be hard-time—that is, the event must be scheduled at a specified time or not at all, or soft-time, indicating it may be scheduled anytime in a specified window. Hard-time events include communications channels with assigned time slots, and soft-time events include asynchronous communications channels. This paper describes and evaluates an optimal algorithm to jointly schedule sequences of hard-time requests, maximizing the number of scheduled events while meeting priority requirements. An extension of this algorithm provides near-optimal schedules for sequences of soft-time or mixed hard- and soft-time events. Algorithms are evaluated by simulation, using two conflict models. The first is based on fixed signal paths that conflict if two paths share a common resource. The second model assumes the RM dynamically assigns resources. As implemented, these algorithms are too slow for real-time operation, and further work is required. They do provide insight into the MFA management problem, a useful metric for evaluating resource sharing and scheduling approaches, and may suggest efficient sub-optimal algorithms.