Description of the course ELG 7187C (Winter 2013)

Topics in Computers II: Model-Based Design and Verification of Distributed Real-Time Systems

Short description (Note: this is slightly different from the official course description for ELG-7187C) : Software development process and CASE tools, model-driven software development, notations for specifying requirements: Use Case Maps and UML Activity Diagrams; formal models for describing dynamic system behaviors: state machines, Petri nets, extended models: SDL / UML State Machines; semantic comparison of different specifications; distributed system design and communication protocols, design flaws, automatic derivation of a distributed system design from the requirements; application to Web Services and workflow modeling; composition of services and collaborations; avoiding design flaws by construction; application to practical examples.

Professor: Gregor v. Bochmann , phone: 562-5800 ext.: 6205, e-mail: , office: SITE building (room 5082), office hours: to be determined

Lectures: Monday from 14:30 to 17:30 in SITE F 0126


The course gives an introduction to methods for describing and analysing requirements and designs of reactive systems,  especially for distributed applications. The main application areas are telecommunication systems, IP telephony and teleconferencing, Internet applications, Web Services and workflow modeling. Because of their complexity, these systems are difficult to design and implement. The students will learn about the principal methods that can be used for the design of such systems, for the precise descriptions of requirements and designs, and for the verification of these descriptions and the corresponding implementations in terms of logical correctness, reliability and real-time response. At the same time, the students will use certain abstract models and specification languages and their associated tools that permit the automation of certain development steps.

The course gives an introduction to certain formal modelling concepts (labelled transition systems, communicating finite state machines, Petri nets), and certain specification languages and other notations (such as UML State and Activity diagrams, and interaction diagrams) and their use during the software development process using automated CASE tools. The course also deals with the comparison of different specifications based on various conformance relations, refinement, abstraction, module composition and replacement.

Emphasis is put on the requirement-driven development of distributed applications. This includes the derivation of the behavior of the different system components (communication protocol) from the given overall requirements of a distributed system, and the composition of a more complex system from several distributed subsystems providing some given features or functions. The orderly composition of such features is one of the most complex issues in the construction of complex real-time systems, sometimes referred to as "feature interactions". The course will also cover questions related to using existing infrastructures, such as CORBA, Java RMI and Web Services, for the implementation of the derived communication protocols.

Leaning objectives

The following list contains some high-level learning objectives for this course. Each objective is preceeded by references to the "graduate attribute criteria" to which they belong (see Section 3.1 of the CEAB Accreditation Criteria and Procedures). In addition, the chapters of the course that concentrate on the objective are indicated at the end.

  1. (2-Analysis; 4-Design; 5-Tools) To design models of system behaviors that satisfy certain given requirements, using different modeling notations such as activity diagrams, labelled transition systems, finite state machines, input-output automata or Petri nets. (Chapters 1, 2)
  2. (2-Analysis; 4-Design; 5-Tools) To design communication protocols for distributed systems that provide a global service that satisfies certain given requirements, using certain methods that are appropriate for the given situation. (Chapters 3, 7)
  3. (2-Analysis; 5-Tools) To verify that a given communication protocol functions without flaws and provides a given required global service, possibly using automated tools for this purpose. (Chapters 3, 6)
  4. (2-Analysis; 4-Design; 5-Tools) To use Markov models or Timed Automata to model the performance characteristics of a given functional behavior specifications, and to derive certain performance properties from these models. (Chapter 4)
  5. (1-Knowledge) To understand how remote procedure calls and the conventions of Web Services can be used to build implementations of distributed system designs. (Chapter 5)

Course activities:

Reading material: Reading material will be provided in the form of course notes and articles from the literature

Evaluation: Final exam (45% - possibly split into mid-term and final exams), exercises (20%), projets (35%, for presentation and final report)


Course content  

  1. Introduction: the software development process, behavioral modeling and CASE tools (1 week)
  2. Behavior modeling using states and transitions (2 week)
  3. Distributed system design (2 week)
  4. Performance modeling (1 week)
  5. Applications: Web Services and workflow modeling (1 week)
  6. Comparing specifications and model checking (1 week)
  7. Deriving protocols for communication services and distributed workflow applications (2 week)
  8. Future perspective
  9. Project presentations by students (2 weeks, estimated)

Last updated: December 10, 2012