Despite attempts to formalize the semantics of use cases, they remain an informal notation. The informality of use cases is both a blessing and a curse. Whilst it admits an easy learning curve and enables communication between software stakeholders, it is also a barrier to the application of automated methods for test case generation, validation or simulation. This paper presents a precise way of specifying use cases based on a three-level modeling paradigm strongly influenced by UML. The formal syntax and semantics of use case charts are given, along with an example that illustrates how they can be used in practice.


Failure Node Activity Diagram Abstract Syntax Test Case Generation Success Node 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. [BRJ05]
    Booch, G., Rumbaugh, J., Jacobson, I.: The Unified Modeling Language User Guide, 2nd edn. Addison-Wesley Professional, Reading (2005)Google Scholar
  2. [Coc00]
    Cockburn, A.: Writing Effective Use Cases. Addison-Wesley Longman Publishing Co., Inc., Boston (2000)Google Scholar
  3. [HHRS05]
    Haugen, Ø., Husa, K.E., Runde, R.K., Stølen, K.: Stairs: Towards formal design with sequence diagrams. Journal of Software and System Modeling 4(4), 355–367 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. [Iso04]
    Isoda, S.: On UML2.0’s abandonment of the actors-call-use-cases conjecture. Journal of Object Technology 4(6) (2004)Google Scholar
  5. [Man01]
    Mansurov, N.: Automatic synthesis of SDL from MSC and its applications in forward and reverse engineering. Comput. Lang. 27(1-3), 115–136 (2001)zbMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. [MB02]
    Mellor, S.J., Balcer, M.: Executable UML: A Foundation for Model-Driven Architectures. Addison-Wesley, Boston (2002)Google Scholar
  7. [OMG05]
    OMG. Unified Modeling Language 2.0 specification (2005),
  8. [OP99]
    Övergaard, G., Palmkvist, K.: A Formal Approach to Use Cases and Their Relationships. In: Bézivin, J., Muller, P.-A. (eds.) UML 1998. LNCS, vol. 1618, pp. 406–418. Springer, Heidelberg (1999)Google Scholar
  9. [Smi04]
    Smialek, M.: Accommodating informality with necessary precision in use case scenarios. Journal of Object Technology 4(6) (2004)Google Scholar
  10. [Sof05]
    Software Engineering Group, University of Paderborn. Shuttle system case study (2005),
  11. [Ste01]
    Stevens, P.: On use cases and their relationships in the unified modelling language. In: Hussmann, H. (ed.) ETAPS 2001 and FASE 2001. LNCS, vol. 2029, pp. 140–155. Springer, Heidelberg (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. [Uni04]
    International Telecommunication Union. Recommendation Z.120: Message sequence chart. Technical report (2004)Google Scholar
  13. [Wil04]
    Williams, C.: Towards engineered, useful use cases. Journal of Object Technology 4(6) (2004)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Berlin Heidelberg 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jon Whittle
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept of Information & Software Engineering, George Mason University, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030 

Personalised recommendations