Model round-trip engineering

Hettel, Thomas (2010) Model round-trip engineering. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


In the quest for shorter time-to-market, higher quality and reduced cost, model-driven software development has emerged as a promising approach to software engineering. The central idea is to promote models to first-class citizens in the development process. Starting from a set of very abstract models in the early stage of the development, they are refined into more concrete models and finally, as a last step, into code. As early phases of development focus on different concepts compared to later stages, various modelling languages are employed to most accurately capture the concepts and relations under discussion. In light of this refinement process, translating between modelling languages becomes a time-consuming and error-prone necessity. This is remedied by model transformations providing support for reusing and automating recurring translation efforts. These transformations typically can only be used to translate a source model into a target model, but not vice versa. This poses a problem if the target model is subject to change. In this case the models get out of sync and therefore do not constitute a coherent description of the software system anymore, leading to erroneous results in later stages. This is a serious threat to the promised benefits of quality, cost-saving, and time-to-market. Therefore, providing a means to restore synchronisation after changes to models is crucial if the model-driven vision is to be realised. This process of reflecting changes made to a target model back to the source model is commonly known as Round-Trip Engineering (RTE). While there are a number of approaches to this problem, they impose restrictions on the nature of the model transformation. Typically, in order for a transformation to be reversed, for every change to the target model there must be exactly one change to the source model. While this makes synchronisation relatively “easy”, it is ill-suited for many practically relevant transformations as they do not have this one-to-one character. To overcome these issues and to provide a more general approach to RTE, this thesis puts forward an approach in two stages. First, a formal understanding of model synchronisation on the basis of non-injective transformations (where a number of different source models can correspond to the same target model) is established. Second, detailed techniques are devised that allow the implementation of this understanding of synchronisation. A formal underpinning for these techniques is drawn from abductive logic reasoning, which allows the inference of explanations from an observation in the context of a background theory. As non-injective transformations are the subject of this research, there might be a number of changes to the source model that all equally reflect a certain target model change. To help guide the procedure in finding “good” source changes, model metrics and heuristics are investigated. Combining abductive reasoning with best-first search and a “suitable” heuristic enables efficient computation of a number of “good” source changes. With this procedure Round-Trip Engineering of non-injective transformations can be supported.

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ID Code: 32082
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Raymond, Kerry
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 30 Apr 2010 05:27
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:56

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