Automatic Generation of Interactive Systems from Declarative Models

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Stirewalt, R. E. Kurt
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This dissertation applies formal methods to the automatic generation of interactive systems from multiple declarative models. We are interested in two kinds of models: user-task and presentation. The MASTERMIND Dialogue Language (MDL) is presented. MDL is a notation for describing interactive system behavior in terms of user tasks. MDL task models are expressed independently of other models, like presentation, but are later composed with the behavior of these other models. Such separation is important for preserving the integrity of models over the lifetime of a system. The technical challenge in this approach is to generate code that combines the functionality of task and presentation models without violating that integrity. To meet this challenge we implement MDL task models as run-time dialogue constraints that synchronize with presentation components. The constraint engine is implemented as a virtual machine that simulates the execution of tasks and resolves the dependencies that arise as a result of task and presentation model composition. To simplify the generation process, a toolkit of reusable run-time components is provided. Each component in this toolkit implements an MDL operator, and components aggregate into trees whose structure corresponds one-to-one with the abstract syntax tree of a corresponding MDL model. Thus implementations can be generated through a simple syntactic transformation of the MDL source code. The design correctness of these components is validated by a novel application of symbolic model checking. The run-time attributes of systems generated using this approach are measured, and we conclude that this strategy of model composition is feasible for use with real interactive systems.
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