Encyclopedia of Database Systems

2018 Edition
| Editors: Ling Liu, M. Tamer Özsu

Visual Formalisms

  • David HarelEmail author
  • Shahar Maoz
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-8265-9_444


Visual formalisms are diagrammatic and intuitive, yet mathematically rigorous languages. Thus, despite their clear visual appearance, they come complete with a syntax that determines what is allowed, and semantics that determines what the allowed things mean. The main emphasis in the visuality is typically placed on topological relationships between diagrammatic elements, such as encapsulation, connectedness, and adjacency. Geometric and metric aspects, such as size, shape, line-style, and color, may also be part of the formalism. Icons can be used too. Such languages typically involve boxes and arrows, and are often hierarchical and modular. Visual formalisms are typically used for the design of hardware and software systems. This includes structural as well as more complex behavioral specifications.

Historical Background

Two of the oldest examples of visual formalisms are graphs and Venn diagrams, which are both originally due to Euler [7, 8]. A graph, in its most basic...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Weizmann Institute of ScienceRehovotIsrael

Section editors and affiliations

  • Tiziana Catarci
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. di Ingegneria Informatica, Automatica e GestionaleUniversita di RomaRomaItaly