Formal Approaches to Systems Analysis Using UML: An Overview

Formal Approaches to Systems Analysis Using UML: An Overview

Jon Whittle (NASA Ames Research Center, USA)
Copyright: © 2000 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/jdm.2000100101
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Abstract

Formal methods, whereby a system is described and/or analyzed using precise mathematical techniques, is a well -established and yet, under-used approach for developing software systems. One of the reasons for this is that project deadlines often impose an unsatisfactory development strategy in which code is produced on an ad-hoc basis without proper thought about the requirements and design of the piece of software in mind. The result is a large, often poorly documented and un-modular monolith of code, which does not lend itself to formal analysis. Because of their complexity, formal methods work best when code is well structured, e.g., when they are applied at the modeling level. UML is a modeling language that is easily learned by system developers and, more importantly, an industry standard, which supports communication between the various project stakeholders. The increased popularity of UML provides a real opportunity for formal methods to be used on a daily basis within the software lifecycle. Unfortunately, the lack of preciseness of UML means that many formal techniques cannot be applied directly. If formal methods are to be given the place they deserve within UML, a more precise description of UML must be developed. This article surveys recent attempts to provide such a description, as well as techniques for analyzing UML models formally.

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