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TRISKELL Research team

Activity reports

Introduction

Components, objects, contracts, aspects, models, meta-models, UML, MDE, software product lines, test, validation, requirements engineering, adaptive systems, services.

Research fields

In its broad acceptation, Software Engineering consists in proposing practical solutions, founded on scientific knowledge, in order to produce and maintain software with constraints on costs, quality and deadlines. In this field, it is admitted that the complexity of a software increases exponentially with its size. However on the one hand, the size itself of the software is on average multiplied by ten every ten years, and on the other hand, economic pressures push towards reducing the duration of developments, and increasing the rates of modifications made to the software.

To face these problems, today's mainstream approaches build on the concept of component based software. The assembly of these components makes it possible to build families of products (a.k.a. product lines) made of many common parts, while remaining opened to new evolutions. As component based systems grow more complex and mission-critical, there is an increased need to model abstractions and reason on such assemblies of components. This is usually done by building models representing various aspects of a product line, such as functional variations, structural aspects (object paradigm), or dynamic aspects (languages of scenarios), without neglecting of course non-functional aspects like quality of service (performance, reliability, etc.) described in the form of contracts. Model Driven Engineering (MDE) is then a sub-domain of software engineering focusing on reinforcing design, validation and test methodologies based on the automatic processing of multi-dimensional models.

Project-team Presentation Overview

The research domain of the Triskell project is the model driven development of software product lines. Triskell is particularly interested in component based reactive and large scale distributed systems with quality of service constraints.

Triskell's main objective is to develop model-based methods and tools to help the software designer to efficiently obtain a certain degree of confidence in the reliability of component assemblies that may include third-party components. This involves, in particular, investigating modeling languages allowing specification of both functional and non-functional aspects for software engineering activities ranging from requirements to detailed design. It also involves building a continuum of tools which make use of these models, from model validation and verification, automatic application of design patterns, to test environments and on-line monitors supervising the behavior of the components in Dynamically Adaptable Systems. Since these modeling languages and associated tools appear quite open-ended and very domain specific, there is a growing need for “tools for building tools for building software”. Triskell is hence developing KerMeta as an original meta modeling approach allowing the user to fully define his modeling languages (including dynamic semantics) and associated environments (including interpreters, compilers, importers/exporters, etc.) within Eclipse.

To avoid the pitfall of developing “tools for building tools for the sake of it”, the Triskell project also has the goal of explicitly connecting its research results to industrial problems through collaborations with industry and technology transfer actions. This implies, in particular, taking into account the industrial standards of the field, namely the Eclipse Modeling Framework (emf), the OMG's Meta-Object Facility (mof) and Unified Modeling Language (uml), as well as domain specific component models such as OSGi.

Triskell is at the frontier of two fields of software: the field of specification and formal proof, and that of design which, though informal, is organized around best practices (e.g.; separation of concerns with aspects, models, design patterns, or the use of off-the-shelf components). We believe that the use of our techniques will make it possible to improve the transition between these two worlds, and will contribute to the fluidity of the processes of design, implementation and testing of software.