Quandary Peak Research Inc
Quandary Peak Research is a Los Angeles-based consulting group that provides computer and software expertise to companies, universities, and attorneys. In particular, we assist our clients in designing, implementing, and analyzing Internet and web applications, software that runs on mobile devices, digital multimedia systems, and embedded/medical device software. We thrive on unraveling tough technical problems and creating innovative solutions.
Quandary Peak experts hold advanced degrees in computer science from top universities. We regularly publish original scientific research in scholarly journals and industry magazines.
Commitment to Ethics
Quandary Peak is committed to the highest ethical standards. We never accept any project that could create even the appearance of a conflict of interest.
Expert Technical Analysis
Quandary Peak software experts have extensive experience analyzing complex systems. We rapidly analyze large code bases, design documents, performance and usage statistics, and other data to answer technical questions about the structure and behavior of software systems. We distill our findings into just what is relevant to each client and explain the results of our analysis in plain English.
Software Design Audits
Many software systems — safety-critical, embedded, and real-time systems in particular — require extensive design analysis prior to coding, procurement of components, and deployment in the field. If design problems are not discovered early, the cost to implement a fix increases exponentially. Candidate designs for such systems should be rigorously vetted by a disinterested, objective expert. Quandary Peak evaluates proposed designs for safety-critical software, such as medical device software and aerospace control software, using scientific, quantitative methods that reveal design flaws and development risks.
Software Defect Analysis
Software failures can result in significant financial losses and, in some cases, even injury to people. In these cases, the question of who is responsible for the failure is inevitably asked, but most of the time there is no easy answer. Even when user error played a role, it is reasonable to ask whether the software could have been designed in a way that would have prevented the error. Quandary Peak investigates software failures to determine the root cause. If requested, we can also perform a comprehensive analysis of the quality of the software in question to understand the context in which the failure occurred.
Software Patent Infringement
The number and importance of software patents has exploded in recent years, particularly as they relate to mobile and web applications. For example, Apple has engaged in a high-profile battle against Android device manufacturers, alleging patent infringement, trademark infringement, and even trade dress infringement. The question of whether an accused device or product infringes a patent is complex and involves both legal and technical analyses. At Quandary Peak, we can determine whether and how a patent is being infringed, and provide the technical data and testimony to back up our position. And, although we're not lawyers, we are familiar with patents, claim charts, and infringement theories, so we're comfortable with the "legalese" of patent litigation.
Software Trade Secrets
Trade secret disputes involving software — while not as widely publicized as patent disputes — have also been growing in number in recent years. Often, these disputes involve situations where technical personnel have left one company and then founded or joined a competitor. The outcome of these cases generally hinges not only on the depth of the technical assessments conducted by the experts for each side, but also the persuasiveness of those experts and their ability to communicate technical concepts without a lot of jargon. Quandary Peak experts know how to determine whether trade secrets were used in the development of a software application, but we also know how to explain our findings to people who aren't software experts.
Given limited time and resources, IT managers and executives must constantly prioritize and reevaluate development projects. To do so, they must understand the value of the software being developed. While effective software valuation obviously includes many economic and financial aspects, it also requires the assistance of a software expert who understands the risks and tradeoffs inherent in software development. At Quandary Peak, we apply advanced analytic techniques based on Monte Carlo simulation and real options to software valuation, enabling our clients to make reasoned decisions, justified by quantitative data, about where and when to invest in software development.
With growing popularity of open-source software, software licensing has never been more complex. Many software engineers to not fully appreciate the implications of incorporating third-party components, and, by extension, their license agreements, into an application that is intended to sold or otherwise distributed to third parties. Open-source software is, in most cases, not free from restrictions on usage, distribution, and sublicensing, and may be governed by a variety of different licenses, such as the GNU GPL, IBM CPL, or Mozilla MPL. Quandary Peak helps development teams create "license architectures" for their software, which are detailed models of how the components in a system are related to rights and obligations laid out in licenses. Once such a license architecture has been developed, it is much easier to determine under what conditions the software can be redistributed or sublicensed.
Custom Software Design
The Quandary Peak team includes top-notch software architects who specialize in transforming concepts into reality. We assist clients with planning, oversight, and management of complex, large-scale software development projects. We ensure designs are aligned with business objectives and customer needs. Agile and lean principles form the foundation for all our development strategies.
Internet and Web Applications
Applications that run on smartphones and tablet computers are fundamentally different than desktop applications. Mobile apps have the potential to leverage the user's context — such as location and video — to provide entirely new types of services. Contextual information is provided to mobile apps through the numerous sensors integrated with smartphones and tablets: GPS receivers, cameras, microphones, accelerometers, and so on. But mobile application development raises new challenges for software engineers as well, including platform heterogeneity and fragmentation, privacy concerns, hardware constraints, and power management. Quandary Peak works with clients during the design and development of mobile applications to maximize the value of mobile offerings and exploit the new opportunities of the mobile space. We're intimately familiar with the idiosyncrasies of the various mobile platforms, including iOS (iPhone and iPad), Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry OS.
Medical and Embedded Software
Most people — and even many software engineers — don't realize that the majority of the world's software is actually embedded software. Embedded software, such as the software in automobiles, factories, and even household appliances, controls and interacts directly with electro-mechanical systems. Embedded software is generally subject to strict resource constraints, must operate in real-time, and may include safety requirements. These considerations give rise to very different design and development paradigms than those used for desktop, web, and mobile applications. At Quandary Peak, we get that embedded software is different. We draw on our extensive experience designing safety- and mission-critical software in the aerospace and defense sector to help our clients build ultra-reliable embedded and real-time systems. We utilize the latest model-driven development paradigms and formal analysis based on model-checking and simulation to ensure complex embedded system designs meet stringent requirements.
Digital Multimedia Systems
Audio and video content will soon be delivered almost exclusively over the Internet rather than on physical media. Of critical importance is the protection of copyrighted content (called Digital Rights Management, or DRM). In the case of video, the increasing fidelity of content is demanding ultra-efficient multimedia processing and storage pipelines. Also, many of today's multimedia delivery services enhance content with interactive features. These trends are driving both the complexity and value of digital multimedia software. Quandary Peak experts provide design expertise in support of clients developing next-generation digital multimedia systems. We have a deep understanding of audio and video encoding standards (e.g., MPEG), vector-based formats (e.g., SVG), and DRM protection schemes.
The decline of print media and the growth of on-demand content delivery create both challenges and opportunities for advertisers. On the one hand, captive audiences whose attention can be focused on a single advertisement are increasingly rare. On the other hand, Internet marketing provides an unprecedented ability to target advertising and track results. For example, affiliate marketing networks enable extremely efficient, results-oriented placement of advertising. Quandary Peak assists advertisers and content providers in search engine optimization (SEO) and implementing performance tracking technologies.
Enterprise architectures are the central artifact used by large organizations to align people, processes, and technology with business objectives. An enterprise architecture (EA) is often codified in formal or semi-formal diagrams and notations that enable rigorous analysis of resource allocation strategies, identification of bottlenecks, and process optimization. As EAs must be continually evolved and maintained over time, it is critical that they are based on established industry standards. Quandary Peak has extensive experience both implementing EA frameworks (that is, the methods, processes, and tools that support EA development) and building and analyzing real-world EAs. Our clients rely on us for unbiased critiques of their existing EAs and guidance in getting more out of EA analysis.
Meet Our Team
Dr. George Edwards has more than a decade of experience as a scientist, engineer, and technical consultant to academic research labs, government agencies, and technology companies, and he has served as a software expert in various litigation contexts, including several patent infringement suits. He is an expert in software architecture, mobile devices, web and Internet apps, and embedded and saftety-critical software. Click here to learn more and contact George.
Brad Ulrich has diverse and accomplished 10+ year career as a computer scientist, software engineer, technology manager, and entrepreneur. His career includes work in the fields of software design and programming, IP and patent management, software-related legal analysis and expert testimony, healthcare technology, mobile software and devices, technology business startups, technology management and licensing, software compliance, and risk management. Click here to learn more and contact Brad.
Science and Innovation
At Quandary Peak, we're research scientists at heart. In fact, most of us used to work at research labs in academia and industry. We assist research proposal development and execute grants funded by government agencies, non-profits, and corporations.
Modeling and Simulation
Modeling and simulation (M&S) technologies enable engineers and analysts to create mathematical models of complex systems and predict the behavior of those systems under different scenarios. M&S is commonly used to identify performance bottlenecks, optimize resource allocation, and weigh trade-offs among candidate designs or algorithms. At Quandary Peak, we're investigating how M&S can be applied to IT and software system architectures.
An emerging approach to understanding the complex inner nature of software is the use of information visualization. Software is often so complex that even the developers who created it don't understand all the possible runtime behaviors that it can exhibit. At Quandary Peak, we're developing novel visualization techniques that graphically represent the behavior of large code bases.