Formal action semantics for a UML action language

Mikai Yang, Greg J. Michaelson, Rob J. Pooley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The abstract syntax and static semantics of UML, the widely-used generalpurpose graphical modeling language, have been standardized in a four-layer metamodeling framework. However UML's dynamic semantics, such as UML Precise Action Semantics and the behaviors like activities, interactions and state machines, are only standardized in a natural language-English. It is commonly argued that such informal description inevitably involves ambiguities and lacks rigorousness, precluding the early simulation and reasoning about a UML system design. Here we select Action Semantics (AS) as the vehicle to formalize UML. AS is a mature semantics description framework which has advantages of intelligibility, modularity and practicability. In our approach, we formalize UML indirectly by formalizing its textual correspondent-an extended Action Language, which plays a key role as the interface between UML and its action semantics. © J.UCS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3608-3624
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Universal Computer Science
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Action language
  • Action semantics
  • Formal semantics
  • Unified modeling language


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