Modeling language

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A modeling language is any artificial language that can be used to express information or knowledge or systems in a structure that is defined by a consistent set of rules. The rules are used for interpretation of the meaning of components in the structure.

Artificial languages are languages of a typically very limited size which emerge either in computer simulations between artificial agents, robot interactions or controlled psychological experiments with humans. They are different from both constructed languages and formal languages in that they have not been consciously devised by an individual or group but are the result of (distributed) conventionalisation processes, much like natural languages. Opposed to the idea of a central designer, the field of artificial language evolution in which artificial languages are studied can be regarded as a sub-part of the more general cultural evolution studies.

Information that which informs; the answer to a question of some kind; that from which data and knowledge can be derived

Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it is that which answers the question of "what an entity is" and thus defines both its essence and nature of its characteristics. It is associated with data, as data represents values attributed to parameters, and information is data in context and with meaning attached. Information relates also to knowledge, as knowledge signifies understanding of an abstract or concrete concept.

Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or something, such as facts, information, descriptions, or skills, which is acquired through experience or education by perceiving, discovering, or learning.

Contents

Overview

A modeling language can be graphical or textual. [1]

An example of a graphical modeling language and a corresponding textual modeling language is EXPRESS.

EXPRESS (data modeling language)

EXPRESS is a standard data modeling language for product data. EXPRESS is formalized in the ISO Standard for the Exchange of Product model STEP, and standardized as ISO 10303-11.

Not all modeling languages are executable, and for those that are, the use of them doesn't necessarily mean that programmers are no longer required. On the contrary, executable modeling languages are intended to amplify the productivity of skilled programmers, so that they can address more challenging problems, such as parallel computing and distributed systems.

Parallel computing programming paradigm in which many calculations or the execution of processes are carried out simultaneously

Parallel computing is a type of computation in which many calculations or the execution of processes are carried out simultaneously. Large problems can often be divided into smaller ones, which can then be solved at the same time. There are several different forms of parallel computing: bit-level, instruction-level, data, and task parallelism. Parallelism has long been employed in high-performance computing, but it's gaining broader interest due to the physical constraints preventing frequency scaling. As power consumption by computers has become a concern in recent years, parallel computing has become the dominant paradigm in computer architecture, mainly in the form of multi-core processors.

A large number of modeling languages appear in the literature.

Type of modeling languages

Graphical types

Example of graphical modeling languages in the field of computer science, project management and systems engineering:

Systems engineering interdisciplinary field of engineering and engineering management that focuses on how to design and manage complex systems over their life cycles

Systems engineering is an interdisciplinary field of engineering and engineering management that focuses on how to design and manage complex systems over their life cycles. At its core, systems engineering utilizes systems thinking principles to organize this body of knowledge. The individual outcome of such efforts, an engineered system, can be defined as a combination of components that work in synergy to collectively perform a useful function.

Software engineering is the application of engineering to the development of software in a systematic method.

In neuropsychology, linguistics, and the philosophy of language, a natural language or ordinary language is any language that has evolved naturally in humans through use and repetition without conscious planning or premeditation. Natural languages can take different forms, such as speech or signing. They are distinguished from constructed and formal languages such as those used to program computers or to study logic.

Examples of graphical modeling languages in other fields of science.

Textual types

Information models can also be expressed in formalized natural languages, such as Gellish. [3] Gellish has natural language variants such as Gellish Formal English and Gellish Formal Dutch (Gellish Formeel Nederlands), etc. Gellish Formal English is an information representation language or semantic modeling language that is defined in the Gellish English Dictionary-Taxonomy, which has the form of a Taxonomy-Ontology (similarly for Dutch). Gellish Formal English is not only suitable to express knowledge, requirements and dictionaries, taxonomies and ontologies, but also information about individual things. All that information is expressed in one language and therefore it can all be integrated, independent of the question whether it is stored in central or distributed or in federated databases. Information models in Gellish Formal English consists of collections of Gellish Formal English expressions, that use natural language terms and formalized phrases. For example, a geographic information model might consist of a number of Gellish Formal English expressions, such as:

- the Eiffel tower <is located in> Paris - Paris <is classified as a> city

whereas information requirements and knowledge can be expressed for example as follows:

- tower <shall be located in a> geographical area - city <is a kind of> geographical area

Such Gellish Formal English expressions use names of concepts (such as 'city') and phrases that represent relation types (such as <is located in> and <is classified as a>) that should be selected from the Gellish English Dictionary-Taxonomy (or of your own domain dictionary). The Gellish English Dictionary-Taxonomy enables the creation of semantically rich information models, because the dictionary contains more than 600 standard relation types and contains definitions of more than 40000 concepts. An information model in Gellish can express facts or make statements, queries and answers.

More specific types

In the field of computer science recently more specific types of modeling languages have emerged.

Algebraic

Algebraic Modeling Languages (AML) are high-level programming languages for describing and solving high complexity problems for large scale mathematical computation (i.e. large scale optimization type problems). One particular advantage of AMLs like AIMMS, AMPL, GAMS, LPL, Mosel, MiniZinc, MPL, OPL and OptimJ is the similarity of its syntax to the mathematical notation of optimization problems. This allows for a very concise and readable definition of problems in the domain of optimization, which is supported by certain language elements like sets, indices, algebraic expressions, powerful sparse index and data handling variables, constraints with arbitrary names. The algebraic formulation of a model does not contain any hints how to process it.

Behavioral

Behavioral languages are designed to describe the observable behavior of complex systems consisting of components that execute concurrently. These languages focus on the description of key concepts such as: concurrency, nondeterminism, synchronization, and communication. The semantic foundations of Behavioral languages are process calculus or process algebra.

Discipline-Specific

A discipline-specific modeling (DspM) language is focused on deliverables affiliated with a specific software development life cycle stage. Therefore, such language offers a distinct vocabulary, syntax, and notation for each stage, such as discovery, analysis, design, architecture, contraction, etc. For example, for the analysis phase of a project, the modeler employs specific analysis notation to deliver an analysis proposition diagram. During the design phase, however, logical design notation is used to depict relationship between software entities. In addition, the discipline-specific modeling language best practices does not preclude practitioners from combining the various notations in a single diagram.

Domain-specific

Domain-specific modeling (DSM) is a software engineering methodology for designing and developing systems, most often IT systems such as computer software. It involves systematic use of a graphical domain-specific language (DSL) to represent the various facets of a system. DSM languages tend to support higher-level abstractions than General-purpose modeling languages, so they require less effort and fewer low-level details to specify a given system.

Framework-specific

A framework-specific modeling language (FSML) is a kind of domain-specific modeling language which is designed for an object-oriented application framework. FSMLs define framework-provided abstractions as FSML concepts and decompose the abstractions into features. The features represent implementation steps or choices.

A FSML concept can be configured by selecting features and providing values for features. Such a concept configuration represents how the concept should be implemented in the code. In other words, concept configuration describes how the framework should be completed in order to create the implementation of the concept.

Information and knowledge modeling

Linked data and ontology engineering require 'host languages' to represent entities and the relations between them, constraints between the properties of entities and relations, and metadata attributes. JSON-LD and RDF are two major (and semantically almost equivalent) languages in this context, primarily because they support statement reification and contextualisation which are essential properties to support the higher-order logic needed to reason about models. Model transformation is a common example of such reasoning.

Object-oriented

Object modeling language are modeling languages based on a standardized set of symbols and ways of arranging them to model (part of) an object oriented software design or system design.

Some organizations use them extensively in combination with a software development methodology to progress from initial specification to an implementation plan and to communicate that plan to an entire team of developers and stakeholders. Because a modeling language is visual and at a higher-level of abstraction than code, using models encourages the generation of a shared vision that may prevent problems of differing interpretation later in development. Often software modeling tools are used to construct these models, which may then be capable of automatic translation to code.

Virtual reality

Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML), before 1995 known as the Virtual Reality Markup Language is a standard file format for representing 3-dimensional (3D) interactive vector graphics, designed particularly with the World Wide Web in mind.

Others

Applications

Various kinds of modeling languages are applied in different disciplines, including computer science, information management, business process modeling, software engineering, and systems engineering. Modeling languages can be used to specify:

Modeling languages are intended to be used to precisely specify systems so that stakeholders (e.g., customers, operators, analysts, designers) can better understand the system being modeled.

The more mature modeling languages are precise, consistent and executable. Informal diagramming techniques applied with drawing tools are expected to produce useful pictorial representations of system requirements, structures and behaviors, but not much else. Executable modeling languages applied with proper tool support, however, are expected to automate system verification and validation, simulation and code generation from the same representations.

Quality

A review of modelling languages is essential to be able to assign which languages are appropriate for different modelling settings. In the term settings we include stakeholders, domain and the knowledge connected. Assessing the language quality is a means that aims to achieve better models.

Framework for evaluation

Here language quality is stated in accordance with the SEQUAL framework for quality of models developed by Krogstie, Sindre and Lindland (2003), since this is a framework that connects the language quality to a framework for general model quality. Five areas are used in this framework to describe language quality and these are supposed to express both the conceptual as well as the visual notation of the language. We will not go into a thoroughly explanation of the underlying quality framework of models but concentrate on the areas used to explain the language quality framework.

Domain appropriateness

The framework states the ability to represent the domain as domain appropriateness. The statement appropriateness can be a bit vague, but in this particular context it means able to express. You should ideally only be able to express things that are in the domain but be powerful enough to include everything that is in the domain. This requirement might seem a bit strict, but the aim is to get a visually expressed model which includes everything relevant to the domain and excludes everything not appropriate for the domain. To achieve this, the language has to have a good distinction of which notations and syntaxes that are advantageous to present.

Participant appropriateness

To evaluate the participant appropriateness we try to identify how well the language expresses the knowledge held by the stakeholders. This involves challenges since a stakeholder's knowledge is subjective. The knowledge of the stakeholder is both tacit and explicit. Both types of knowledge are of dynamic character. In this framework only the explicit type of knowledge is taken into account. The language should to a large extent express all the explicit knowledge of the stakeholders relevant to the domain.

Modeller appropriateness

Last paragraph stated that knowledge of the stakeholders should be presented in a good way. In addition it is imperative that the language should be able to express all possible explicit knowledge of the stakeholders. No knowledge should be left unexpressed due to lacks in the language.

Comprehensibility appropriateness

Comprehensibility appropriateness makes sure that the social actors understand the model due to a consistent use of the language. To achieve this the framework includes a set of criteria. The general importance that these express is that the language should be flexible, easy to organize and easy to distinguish different parts of the language internally as well as from other languages. In addition to this, the goal should be as simple as possible and that each symbol in the language has a unique representation.

Tool appropriateness

To ensure that the domain actually modelled is usable for analyzing and further processing, the language has to ensure that it is possible to reason in an automatic way. To achieve this it has to include formal syntax and semantics. Another advantage by formalizing is the ability to discover errors in an early stage. It is not always that the language best fitted for the technical actors is the same as for the social actors.

Organizational appropriateness

The language used is appropriate for the organizational context, e.g. that the language is standardized within the organization, or that it is supported by tools that are chosen as standard in the organization.

See also

Related Research Articles

Software architecture refers to the fundamental structures of a software system and the discipline of creating such structures and systems. Each structure comprises software elements, relations among them, and properties of both elements and relations. The architecture of a software system is a metaphor, analogous to the architecture of a building. It functions as a blueprint for the system and the developing project, laying out the tasks not necessary to be executed by the design teams.

In computer science and information science, an ontology encompasses a representation, formal naming and definition of the categories, properties and relations between the concepts, data and entities that substantiate one, many or all domains of discourse.

Data model abstract model for organizing data; abstract model that organizes elements of data and standardizes how they relate to one another and to properties of the real world entities

The term data model is used in two distinct but closely related senses. Sometimes it refers to an abstract formalization of the objects and relationships found in a particular application domain, for example the customers, products, and orders found in a manufacturing organization. At other times it refers to a set of concepts used in defining such formalizations: for example concepts such as entities, attributes, relations, or tables. So the "data model" of a banking application may be defined using the entity-relationship "data model". This article uses the term in both senses.

Software design is the process by which an agent creates a specification of a software artifact, intended to accomplish goals, using a set of primitive components and subject to constraints. Software design may refer to either "all the activity involved in conceptualizing, framing, implementing, commissioning, and ultimately modifying complex systems" or "the activity following requirements specification and before programming, as ... [in] a stylized software engineering process."

Software development is the process of conceiving, specifying, designing, programming, documenting, testing, and bug fixing involved in creating and maintaining applications, frameworks, or other software components. Software development is a process of writing and maintaining the source code, but in a broader sense, it includes all that is involved between the conception of the desired software through to the final manifestation of the software, sometimes in a planned and structured process. Therefore, software development may include research, new development, prototyping, modification, reuse, re-engineering, maintenance, or any other activities that result in software products.

IDEF

IDEF, initially abbreviation of ICAM Definition, renamed in 1999 as Integration DEFinition, refers to a family of modeling languages in the field of systems and software engineering. They cover a wide range of uses, from functional modeling to data, simulation, object-oriented analysis/design and knowledge acquisition. These "definition languages" were developed under funding from U.S. Air Force and although still most commonly used by them, as well as other military and United States Department of Defense (DoD) agencies, are in the public domain.

Process modeling

The term process model is used in various contexts. For example, in business process modeling the enterprise process model is often referred to as the business process model.

Information model representation of conceptual relationships between things

An information model in software engineering is a representation of concepts and the relationships, constraints, rules, and operations to specify data semantics for a chosen domain of discourse. Typically it specifies relations between kinds of things, but may also include relations with individual things. It can provide sharable, stable, and organized structure of information requirements or knowledge for the domain context.

The SEQUAL framework is systems modelling reference model for evaluating the quality of models. The SEQUAL framework, which stands for "semiotic quality framework" is developed by John Krogstie and others since the 1990s.

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.

Gellish is an ontology language for data storage and communication, designed and developed by Andries van Renssen since mid-1990s. It started out as an engineering modeling language but evolved into a universal and extendable conceptual data modeling language with general applications. Because it includes domain-specific terminology and definitions, it is also a semantic data modelling language and the Gellish modeling methodology is a member of the family of semantic modeling methodologies.

Enterprise modelling

Enterprise modelling is the abstract representation, description and definition of the structure, processes, information and resources of an identifiable business, government body, or other large organization.

ISO/IEC/IEEE 42010Systems and software engineering — Architecture description is an international standard for architecture descriptions of systems and software.

Semantic data model Database model

Semantic data model(SDM) is a high-level semantics-based database description and structuring formalism for databases. This database model is designed to capture more of the meaning of an application environment than is possible with contemporary database models. An SDM specification describes a database in terms of the kinds of entities that exist in the application environment, the classifications and groupings of those entities, and the structural interconnections among them. SDM provides a collection of high-level modeling primitives to capture the semantics of an application environment. By accommodating derived information in a database structural specification, SDM allows the same information to be viewed in several ways; this makes it possible to directly accommodate the variety of needs and processing requirements typically present in database applications. The design of the present SDM is based on our experience in using a preliminary version of it. SDM is designed to enhance the effectiveness and usability of database systems. An SDM database description can serve as a formal specification and documentation tool for a database; it can provide a basis for supporting a variety of powerful user interface facilities, it can serve as a conceptual database model in the database design process; and, it can be used as the database model for a new kind of database management system.[5]

IDEF5

IDEF5 is a software engineering method to develop and maintain usable, accurate domain ontologies. This standard is part of the IDEF family of modeling languages in the field of software engineering.

Enterprise engineering is defined as the body of knowledge, principles, and practices to design all or part of an enterprise. An enterprise is a complex, socio-technical system that comprises interdependent resources of people, information, and technology that must interact with each other and their environment in support of a common mission. According to Kosanke, Vernadat and Zelm, enterprise engineering is an enterprise life-cycle oriented discipline for the identification, design, and implementation of enterprises and their continuous evolution, supported by enterprise modelling. Enterprise engineering is a subdiscipline of industrial engineering / systems engineering. The discipline examines each aspect of the enterprise, including business processes, information flows, material flows, and organizational structure. Enterprise engineering may focus on the design of the enterprise as a whole, or on the design and integration of certain business components.

IDEF3

IDEF3 or Integrated DEFinition for Process Description Capture Method is a business process modelling method complementary to IDEF0. The IDEF3 method is a scenario-driven process flow description capture method intended to capture the knowledge about how a particular system works.

John Krogstie is a Norwegian computer scientist, professor in information systems at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, Norway, and an expert in the field of enterprise modelling.

Systems modeling conceptual mode that describes and represents a system

Systems modeling or system modeling is the interdisciplinary study of the use of models to conceptualize and construct systems in business and IT development.

Method engineering

Method engineering in the "field of information systems is the discipline to construct new methods from existing methods". It focuses on "the design, construction and evaluation of methods, techniques and support tools for information systems development".

References

  1. Xiao He (2007). "A metamodel for the notation of graphical modeling languages". In: Computer Software and Applications Conference, 2007. COMPSAC 2007 - Vol. 1. 31st Annual International, Volume 1, Issue , 24–27 July 2007, pp 219-224.
  2. Bell, Michael (2008). "Introduction to Service-Oriented Modeling". Service-Oriented Modeling: Service Analysis, Design, and Architecture. Wiley & Sons. ISBN   978-0-470-14111-3.

Further reading