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Science Park 3

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Design models describe different viewpoints of a software system – separating functionality, from structure, behavior, or usage. While these models are meant to be separate in their description, they are nonetheless related by manifold dependencies. After all, they describe the same system. It is necessary to understand this network of dependencies to understand how the various models are connected. Yet, this network of dependencies is also the most significant reason for failure during software modeling. It is the root cause for failure to propagate changes correctly and completely. Although change propagation as a whole is a daunting challenge to tackle, this proposed work suggests an approach for solving this problem in context of software models. In context of such models, incorrect or incomplete changes are detectable if these changes cause inconsistencies among the models involved. This proposed work thus builds on technology we pioneered under a predecessor project (FWF project P21321-N15 titled “Inconsistencies and their Impact on Software Design Models”). That project developed a methodology for understanding how inconsistencies are caused and what changes can repair them. That predecessor project is now in its final stages and this proposed work will build on its results to develop a methodology for change propagation in software design models. Models change continuously and if a change is not correctly applied to all models of a software system then inconsistencies are caused. Since there are often near infinite choices for repairing inconsistencies, this project will tailor the repairing of inconsistencies by not seeing inconsistencies in isolation but by understanding the cumulative effect of changes over time (during propagation). The basic observation is that change propagation may cause further inconsistencies and their repair should not contradict earlier changes. This simple idea forms the basis for understanding relationships among inconsistencies which in turn helps us explore the computationally expensive space of change combinations based on a novel idea that is analogous to triangulation. This work will 1) research the methodology for change propagation across arbitrary design models governed by constraints, 2) develop a proof-of-concept tool to demonstrate the approach, and 3) evaluate the methodology and tool on industrial models available to us. As we did in the predecessor project, we will continue to publish the research results in the best peer-reviewed journals and conferences; and pursuit its transition to industrial use. This proposal requests funding for two PhD students and one Master’s student only plus their travel needs.