Action semantics of unified modeling language
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The Uni ed Modeling Language or UML, as a visual and general purpose modeling language, has been around for more than a decade, gaining increasingly wide application and becoming the de-facto industrial standard for modeling software systems. However, the dynamic semantics of UML behaviours are only described in natural languages. Speci cation in natural languages inevitably involves vagueness, lacks reasonability and discourages mechanical language implementation. Such semi-formality of UML causes wide concern for researchers, including us. The formal semantics of UML demands more readability and extensibility due to its fast evolution and a wider range of users. Therefore we adopt Action Semantics (AS), mainly created by Peter Mosses, to formalize the dynamic semantics of UML, because AS can satisfy these needs advantageously compared to other frameworks. Instead of de ning UML directly, we design an action language, called ALx, and use it as the intermediary between a typical executable UML and its action semantics. ALx is highly heterogeneous, combining the features of Object Oriented Programming Languages, Object Query Languages, Model Description Languages and more complex behaviours like state machines. Adopting AS to formalize such a heterogeneous language is in turn of signi cance in exploring the adequacy and applicability of AS. In order to give assurance of the validity of the action semantics of ALx, a prototype ALx-to-Java translator is implemented, underpinned by our formal semantic description of the action language and using the Model Driven Approach (MDA). We argue that MDA is a feasible way of implementing this source-to-source language translator because the cornerstone of MDA, UML, is adequate to specify the static aspect of programming languages, and MDA provides executable transformation languages to model mapping rules between languages. We also construct a translator using a commonly-used conventional approach, in i which a tool is employed to generate the lexical scanner and the parser, and then other components including the type checker, symbol table constructor, intermediate representation producer and code generator, are coded manually. Then we compare the conventional approach with the MDA. The result shows that MDA has advantages over the conventional method in the aspect of code quality but is inferior to the latter in terms of system performance.