A Causality-based Semantics for UML Sequence Diagrams

O. Tahir, C. Sibertin-Blanc, and J. Cardoso (France)


UML Sequence Diagram, MSC, formal semantics, causalordering.


The unified modeling language (UML) is widely used to describe the behavior of systems. It provides a suitable framework for requirements elicitation by means of Use Case diagrams, for functional specifications by means of Interaction diagrams (Sequence diagrams, Collaboration diagram or Communication diagrams) and for behavioral specification by means of Statechart (State-Transition diagrams). It has attracted the attention of researchers interested in automatically deriving the behavior of the components of a system from their interactions. UML lacks a formal semantics and does not propose semantic links between the diagrams of dynamics. In particular, Interaction diagrams do not have an operational semantics describing formally how to carry out such diagrams. Therefore, it is not possible to apply formal techniques for deriving Statecharts from Sequence diagrams. To reach this goal, this paper proposes a new semantics for UML Sequence diagrams based on a relation of causality between the actions of emission and reception of messages. This semantics avoids unnecessary scheduling constraints and so ease the elaboration of high level specifications.

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