Last updated

Example of a Geologic map information meta-model, with four types of meta-objects, and their self-references. Meta-Modelling.svg
Example of a Geologic map information meta-model, with four types of meta-objects, and their self-references.

A metamodel or surrogate model is a model of a model, and metamodeling is the process of generating such metamodels. Thus metamodeling or meta-modeling is the analysis, construction and development of the frames, rules, constraints, models and theories applicable and useful for modeling a predefined class of problems. As its name implies, this concept applies the notions of meta- and modeling in software engineering and systems engineering. Metamodels are of many types and have diverse applications. [2]



A metamodel/ surrogate model is a model of the model, i.e. a simplified model of an actual model of a circuit, system, or software like entity. [3] [4] Metamodel can be a mathematical relation or algorithm representing input and output relations. A model is an abstraction of phenomena in the real world; a metamodel is yet another abstraction, highlighting properties of the model itself. A model conforms to its metamodel in the way that a computer program conforms to the grammar of the programming language in which it is written. Various types of metamodels include polynomial equations, neural network, Kriging, etc. "Metamodeling" is the construction of a collection of "concepts" (things, terms, etc.) within a certain domain. Metamodeling typically involves studying the output and input relationships and then fitting right metamodels to represent that behavior.

Common uses for metamodels are:

Because of the "meta" character of metamodeling, both the praxis and theory of metamodels are of relevance to metascience, metaphilosophy, metatheories and systemics, and meta-consciousness. The concept can be useful in mathematics, and has practical applications in computer science and computer engineering/software engineering. The latter are the main focus of this article.


Meta-Object Facility Illustration. M0-m3.png
Meta-Object Facility Illustration.
A US FEA Business reference model. Government Business Reference Model.svg
A US FEA Business reference model.
Example of an ontology. Mason-ontology.png
Example of an ontology.
A DoDAF metamodel. DoDAF Perspectives and Decomposition Levels.jpg
A DoDAF metamodel.


In software engineering, the use of models is an alternative to more common code-based development techniques. A model always conforms to a unique metamodel. One of the currently most active branch of Model Driven Engineering is the approach named model-driven architecture proposed by OMG. This approach is based on the utilization of a language to write metamodels called the Meta Object Facility or MOF. Typical metamodels proposed by OMG are UML, SysML, SPEM or CWM. ISO has also published the standard metamodel ISO/IEC 24744. [6] All the languages presented below could be defined as MOF metamodels.

Metadata modeling

Metadata modeling is a type of metamodeling used in software engineering and systems engineering for the analysis and construction of models applicable and useful to some predefined class of problems. (see also: data modeling).

Model transformations

One important move in model-driven engineering is the systematic use of model transformation languages. The OMG has proposed a standard for this called QVT for Queries/Views/Transformations. QVT is based on the meta-object facility or MOF. Among many other model transformation languages (MTLs), some examples of implementations of this standard are AndroMDA, VIATRA, Tefkat, MT, ManyDesigns Portofino.

Relationship to ontologies

Meta-models are closely related to ontologies. Both are often used to describe and analyze the relations between concepts [7]

Types of metamodels

For software engineering, several types of models (and their corresponding modeling activities) can be distinguished:

Zoos of metamodels

A library of similar metamodels has been called a Zoo of metamodels. [11] There are several types of meta-model zoos. [12] Some are expressed in ECore. Others are written in MOF 1.4 – XMI 1.2. The metamodels expressed in UML-XMI1.2 may be uploaded in Poseidon for UML, a UML CASE tool.

Metamodeling software

See also

Related Research Articles

Unified Modeling Language general-purpose, developmental, modeling language in the field of software engineering

The Unified Modeling Language (UML) is a general-purpose, developmental, modeling language in the field of software engineering that is intended to provide a standard way to visualize the design of a system.

The XML Metadata Interchange (XMI) is an Object Management Group (OMG) standard for exchanging metadata information via Extensible Markup Language (XML).

Meta-Object Facility Object Management Group standard for model-driven engineering

The Meta-Object Facility (MOF) is an Object Management Group (OMG) standard for model-driven engineering. Its purpose is to provide a type system for entities in the CORBA architecture and a set of interfaces through which those types can be created and manipulated. The official reference page may be found at OMG's website.

A platform-independent model (PIM) in software engineering is a model of a software system or business system that is independent of the specific technological platform used to implement it.

A platform-specific model is a model of a software or business system that is linked to a specific technological platform. Platform-specific models are indispensable for the actual implementation of a system.

Model-driven architecture (MDA) is a software design approach for the development of software systems. It provides a set of guidelines for the structuring of specifications, which are expressed as models. Model-driven architecture is a kind of domain engineering, and supports model-driven engineering of software systems. It was launched by the Object Management Group (OMG) in 2001.

The Object Constraint Language (OCL) is a declarative language describing rules applying to Unified Modeling Language (UML) models developed at IBM and is now part of the UML standard. Initially, OCL was merely a formal specification language extension for UML. OCL may now be used with any Meta-Object Facility (MOF) Object Management Group (OMG) meta-model, including UML. The Object Constraint Language is a precise text language that provides constraint and object query expressions on any MOF model or meta-model that cannot otherwise be expressed by diagrammatic notation. OCL is a key component of the new OMG standard recommendation for transforming models, the Queries/Views/Transformations (QVT) specification.

The common warehouse metamodel (CWM) defines a specification for modeling metadata for relational, non-relational, multi-dimensional, and most other objects found in a data warehousing environment. The specification is released and owned by the Object Management Group, which also claims a trademark in the use of "CWM".

A UML tool is a software application that supports some or all of the notation and semantics associated with the Unified Modeling Language (UML), which is the industry standard general-purpose modeling language for software engineering.

Domain-specific modeling (DSM) is a software engineering methodology for designing and developing systems, such as computer software. It involves systematic use of a domain-specific language to represent the various facets of a system.

The VIATRA framework is the core of a transformation-based verification and validation environment for improving the quality of systems designed using the Unified Modeling Language by automatically checking consistency, completeness, and dependability requirements.

Model-driven engineering (MDE) is a software development methodology that focuses on creating and exploiting domain models, which are conceptual models of all the topics related to a specific problem. Hence, it highlights and aims at abstract representations of the knowledge and activities that govern a particular application domain, rather than the computing concepts.

ATLAS Transformation Language programming language

ATL is a model transformation language and toolkit developed and maintained by OBEO and AtlanMod. It was initiated by the AtlanMod team. In the field of Model-Driven Engineering (MDE), ATL provides ways to produce a set of target models from a set of source models.

QVT standard set of languages for model transformation

QVT (Query/View/Transformation) is a standard set of languages for model transformation defined by the Object Management Group.

A model transformation language in systems and software engineering is a language intended specifically for model transformation.

SImi or Kernel Meta Meta Model is a neutral computer language to write metamodels and to define Domain Specific Languages. KM3 has been defined at INRIA and is available under the Eclipse platform.

Kermeta is a modeling and programming language for metamodel engineering.

SmartQVT full Java open-source implementation of the QTV-Operational language

SmartQVT is a full Java open-source implementation of the QTV-Operational language which is dedicated to express model-to-model transformations. This tool compiles QVT transformations into Java programs to be able to run QVT transformations. The compiled Java programs are EMF-based applications. It is provided as Eclipse plug-ins running on top of the EMF metamodeling framework and is licensed under EPL.

A metaCASE tool is a type of application software that provides the possibility to create one or more modeling methods, languages or notations for use within the process of software development. Often the result is a modeling tool for that language. MetaCASE tools are thus a kind of language workbench, generally considered as being focused on graphical modeling languages.


  1. David R. Soller et al. (2001) Progress Report on the National Geologic Map Database, Phase 3: An Online Database of Map Information Digital Mapping Techniques '01 -- Workshop Proceedings U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 01-223.
  2. Saraju Mohanty, Chapter 12 Metamodel-Based Fast AMS-SoC Design Methodologies, "Nanoelectronic Mixed-Signal System Design", ISBN   978-0071825719 and 0071825711, 1st Edition, McGraw-Hill, 2015.
  3. Oleg Garitselov, Saraju Mohanty, and Elias Kougianos, "A Comparative Study of Metamodels for Fast and Accurate Simulation of Nano-CMOS Circuits Archived 23 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine ", IEEE Transactions on Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSM), Vol. 25, No. 1, February 2012, pp. 26–36.
  4. Saraju Mohanty Ultra-Fast Design Exploration of Nanoscale Circuits through Metamodeling Archived 23 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine , Invited Talk, Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC), Texas Analog Center for Excellence (TxACE), 27 April 2012.
  5. FEA (2005) FEA Records Management Profile, Version 1.0. December 15, 2005.
  6. International Organization for Standardization / International Electrotechnical Commission, 2007. ISO/IEC 24744. Software Engineering - Metamodel for Development Methodologies.
  7. E. Söderström, et al. (2001) "Towards a Framework for Comparing Process Modelling Languages", in: Lecture Notes In Computer Science; Vol. 2348. Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Advanced Information Systems Engineering. Pages: 600 – 611, 2001
  8. 1 2 Pidcock, Woody (2003), What are the differences between a vocabulary, a taxonomy, a thesaurus, an ontology, and a meta-model?
  9. Ernst, Johannes (2002), What is metamodeling, and what is it good for?
  10. Saraju Mohanty and Elias Kougianos, "Polynomial Metamodel Based Fast Optimization of Nano-CMOS Oscillator Circuits Archived 10 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine ", Springer Analog Integrated Circuits and Signal Processing Journal, Volume 79, Issue 3, June 2014, pp. 437–453.
  11. Jean-Marie Favre: Towards a Basic Theory to Model Driven Engineering. Archived 15 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine .
  12. AtlanticZoo Archived 29 April 2006 at the Wayback Machine .
  13. Bouhlel, M.A.; Hwang, J.H.; Bartoli, Nathalie; Lafage, R.; Morlier, J.; Martins, J.R.R.A. (2019). "A Python surrogate modeling framework with derivatives". Advances in Engineering Software. doi:10.1016/j.advengsoft.2019.03.005.

Further reading