Integrated Model-driven Development Environments for Equation-based Object-oriented Languages




НазваниеIntegrated Model-driven Development Environments for Equation-based Object-oriented Languages
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Дата04.10.2012
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Part I


Motivation, Introduction, Background and Related Work

Chapter 1


Introduction


Motto:
Models..., models everywhere.
Meta-models model models
Meta-MetaModels models Meta-Models.


Attempt at a Definition of the Term "meta-model" (www.metamodel.com):
A meta-model is a precise definition of the constructs
and rules needed for creating semantic models.


Integrated development environments are essential for efficient realization of complex industrial products, typically consisting of both software and hardware components. Powerful equation-based object-oriented (EOO) languages such as Modelica are successfully used for modeling and virtual prototyping increasingly complex physical systems and components, whereas software modeling approaches like UML, especially in the form of domain specific language subsets, are increasingly used for software systems modeling.

A research hypothesis investigated to some extent in this thesis is if EOO languages can be successfully generalized also to support software modeling, thus addressing whole product modeling, and if integrated environments for such a generalized EOO language tool support can be created and effectively used on real-sized applications.

However, creating advanced development environments is still a resource-consuming error-prone process that is largely manual. One rather successful approach is to have a general framework kernel, and use meta-modeling and meta-programming techniques to provide tool support for specific languages. Thus, the main goal of this research is the development of a meta-modeling approach and its associated meta-programming methods for the synthesis of model-driven product development environments that includes support for modeling and simulation. Such environments include components like model editors, compilers, debuggers and simulators. This thesis presents several contributions towards this vision in the context of EOO languages, primarily the Modelica language.

1.1Research Objective (Motivation)


Current state-of-the art equation-based object-oriented languages are supported by tools that have fixed features and are hard to extend. The modeling community needs better tools to support creation, querying, manipulation, composition and simulation of models in equation-based object-oriented languages.

The current state-of-the art tools supporting EOO languages do not satisfy all the different requirements users expect, for example the following:

  • Creation, query, manipulation, composition and management of models.

  • Query of model equations for: optimization purposes, parallelization, model checking, simulation with different solvers, etc.

  • Model configuration for simulation purposes: initial state, initialization via xml files or databases.

  • Simulation features: running a simulation and displaying a result, running more simulations in parallel, possibility to handle simulation failures and continue the simulation on a different path, possibility to generate only specific data within a simulation, possibility to manipulate simulation data for export to another tool.

  • Model transformation and refactoring: export to a different tool, improve the current model or library but retain the semantics, model composition and invasive model composition.

  • Continuous partial differential equations (PDEs) transformed into: Discretized, finite difference, Discretized, Finite Elements (FEM), Discretized, finite volume.

Traditionally, a model compiler performs the task of translating a model into executable code, which then is executed during simulation of the model. Thus, the symbolic translation step is followed by an execution step, a simulation, which often involves large-scale numeric computations.

However, as requirements on the usage of models grow, and the scope of modeling domains increases, the demands on the modeling language and corresponding tools increase. This causes the model compiler to become large and complex.

Moreover, the modeling community needs not only tools for simulation but also languages and tools to create, query, manipulate, and compose equation-based models. Additional examples are optimization of models, parallelization of models, checking and configuration of models.

If all this functionality is added to the model compiler, it tends to become large and complex.

An alternative idea is to add features to the modeling language such that for example a model package can contain model analysis and translation features that therefore are not required in the model compiler. An example is a PDEs discretization scheme that could be expressed in the modeling language itself as part of a PDE package instead of being added internally to the model compiler.

The direct questions arising from the research objective are:

  • Can we deliver a new language that allows people to build their own solution to their problems without having to go via tool vendors?

  • What is expected from such a language?

  • What properties should the language have based on the requirements for it? This includes language primitives, type system, semantics, etc.

  • Can such a language combined with a general tool be better than a special-purpose tool?

  • What are the steps to design and develop such a language?

  • What methods and tools should support the debugging of the new language?

  • How can we construct advanced interactive development environments that support such a language?
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