Integrating structured and formal methods: A visual approach to VDM

  • Jeremy Dick
  • Jérôme Loubersac
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 550)


Two barriers to the widespread industrialisation of formal methods are a lack of methodology, and the use of mathematical notations that are not easily understood by the non-specialist.

The work presented in this paper addresses these problems by defining diagrams which may be used to visualise aspects of formal specifications. The diagrams used are adaptations of classical approaches such as entity-relationship and state-transition diagrams.

The approach described imposes a methodology on the early stages of system specification, and provides the analyst with a choice of notations, visual and non-visual, while maintaining an underlying formality. During the process of analysis, the notation most appropriate for the expression and communication of the concepts required can be selected.

Two sorts of diagram are discussed: Entity-Structure Diagrams, and Operation-State Diagrams, the former in detail, the latter in sketch form.

A tool is envisaged that assists the analyst in moving between diagrams and VDM. Each diagram can be mapped onto parts of a common VDM specification, which forms the central underlying system description. Consistency can then be checked by a VDM type-checker.


integration structured methods formal methods visual notations VDM 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. [Back91]
    R. J. R. Back, Refinement Diagrams, In Proc. Fourth Refinement Workshop, Wolfson College, Cambridge, Jan 1991Google Scholar
  2. [BFO89]
    R. D. van der Bos, L. M. G. Feijs, R. C. van Ommering, POLAR, A Picture-Oriented Language for Abstract Representations, Philips Research Laboratories, Research report No. RWR-113-RB-89021-RB, October 1989Google Scholar
  3. [BGMT88]
    G. Boudier, F. Gallo, R. Minot, I. Thomas, An Overview of PCTE and PCTE+, ACM Symposium on Software Development Environments 1988, pp. 248–257Google Scholar
  4. [BSI90a]
    British Standards Institute, The BSI/VDM Proto-Standard, Draft of 7 Sept 1990, Brian Richee (Ed.)Google Scholar
  5. [BSI90b]
    British Standards Institute, The Dynamic Semantics of the BSI/VDM Specification Language, Draft of August 1990, Peter Gorm Larsen (Ed.)Google Scholar
  6. [Chen76]
    P. P. Chen, The Entity-Relationship Model: towards a unified view of data, ACM Transactions on Database Systems, Vol 1, No 1, March 1976Google Scholar
  7. [CunGold88]
    R. J. Cunningham, S. J. Goldsack, Why FOREST?, In Proc. of UK IT88, IEE, 1988, pp. 91–94Google Scholar
  8. [DickLoub91]
    J. Dick, J. Loubersac, A Visual Approach to VDM: Entity-Structure Diagrams, Bull Research Center Report, DE/DRPA/DMA/91001, Jan 1991.Google Scholar
  9. [Harel87]
    D. Harel, Statecharts: A visual formalism for complex systems, Sci. Comput. Programm. Vol. 8, pp. 231–274, 1987Google Scholar
  10. [Jones90]
    Cliff B. Jones, Systematic Software Development using VDM, Second Edition, Prentice Hall Int., 1990Google Scholar
  11. [MTW90]
    M. W. Maimone, J. D. Tygar, J. M. Wing, Formal Semantics for Visual Specification of Security, in Visual Languages and Visual Programming, Shi-Kuo Chang (Ed.), Plenum Publishing Corp., 1990Google Scholar
  12. [Naftalin91]
    Maurice Naftalin, A Formal Framework for Opportunistic Design, Univ. of Stirling Tech. Report TR72, April 24 1991Google Scholar
  13. [PKP91]
    Nico Plat, Jan van Katwijk, Kees Pronk, A Case for Structured Analysis/Formal Design, Submitted for publication.Google Scholar
  14. [Polack91]
    Fiona Polack, Integrating Formal Notations and Systems Analysis: Using Entity Relationship Diagrams, University of York Research Report, SAZ 91/004, Feb. 27, 1991Google Scholar
  15. [SA91]
    Lesley Semmens, Pat Allen, Using Yourdon and Z: an Approach to Formal Specification, In Proc. 5th Z Users Group Meeting, December 1990, (to be published by Springer Verlag in Workshops in Computing Science.)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeremy Dick
    • 1
  • Jérôme Loubersac
    • 1
  1. 1.Bull Corporate Research CentreLes Clayes-Sous-BoisFrance

Personalised recommendations