Software & Systems Modeling

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 357–392 | Cite as

Formal validation of domain-specific languages with derived features and well-formedness constraints

  • Oszkár Semeráth
  • Ágnes Barta
  • Ákos Horváth
  • Zoltán Szatmári
  • Dániel Varró
Special Section Paper


Despite the wide range of existing tool support, constructing a design environment for a complex domain-specific language (DSL) is still a tedious task as the large number of derived features and well-formedness constraints complementing the domain metamodel necessitate special handling. Such derived features and constraints are frequently defined by declarative techniques (such graph patterns or OCL invariants). However, for complex domains, derived features and constraints can easily be formalized incorrectly resulting in inconsistent, incomplete or ambiguous DSL specifications. To detect such issues, we propose an automated mapping of EMF metamodels enriched with derived features and well-formedness constraints captured as graph queries in EMF-IncQuery or (a subset of) OCL invariants into an effectively propositional fragment of first-order logic which can be efficiently analyzed by back-end reasoners. On the conceptual level, the main added value of our encoding is (1) to transform graph patterns of the EMF-IncQuery framework into FOL and (2) to introduce approximations for complex language features (e.g., transitive closure or multiplicities) which are not expressible in FOL. On the practical level, we identify and address relevant challenges and scenarios for systematically validating DSL specifications. Our approach is supported by a tool, and it will be illustrated on analyzing a DSL in the avionics domain. We also present initial performance experiments for the validation using Z3 and Alloy as back-end reasoners.


Language validation Derived features Partial snapshots Model queries SMT solvers 



This work was motivated by the FP7 ARTEMIS CONCERTO (ART-2012-333053) project, partially supported by the CERTIMOT (Design and Analysis Techniques for Certifiable Model Transformations, ERC_HU-09-01-2010-0003) project, the TÁMOP (4.2.2.C-11/1/KONV-2012-0001) project, a collaborative project with Embraer, the ARTEMIS JU and the Hungarian National Research, Development and Innovation Fund in the frame of the R5-COP (Reconfigurable ROS-based Resilient Reasoning Robotic Cooperating Systems) project.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Measurement and Information SystemsBudapest University of Technology and EconomicsBudapestHungary

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