Statecharts: A Formalism to Model, Simulate and Synthesize Reactive and Autonomous Timed Systems

Open Access


Statecharts, introduced by David Harel in 1987, is a formalism used to specify the behaviour of timed, autonomous, and reactive systems using a discrete-event abstraction. It extends Timed Finite State Automata with depth, orthogonality, broadcast communication, and history. Its visual representation is based on higraphs, which combine graphs and Euler diagrams. Many tools offer visual editing, simulation, and code synthesis support for the Statechart formalism. Examples include STATEMATE, Rhapsody, Yakindu, and Stateflow, each implementing different variants of Harel’s original semantics. This tutorial introduces modelling, simulation, and testing with Statecharts. As a running example, the behaviour of a digital watch, a simple yet sufficiently complex timed, autonomous, and reactive system is modelled. We start from the basic concepts of states and transitions and explain the more advanced concepts of Statecharts by extending the example incrementally. We discuss several semantic variants, such as STATEMATE and Rhapsody. We use Yakindu to model the example system.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Antwerp - Flanders MakeAntwerpBelgium
  2. 2.University of Antwerp - Flanders Make, Belgium; McGill UniversityAntwerpCanada

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