Towards a Body of Knowledge in Formal Methods for the Railway Domain: Identification of Settled Knowledge

  • Stefan Gruner
  • Apurva Kumar
  • Tom Maibaum
Conference paper
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 596)


Bodies of Knowledge (BoK) are available only in mature technical fields, in which professional practices and technical rules have been well established (i.e.: ‘settled’), and are compiled for any prospective or current practitioner to refer to. By their factual establishment they also become professionally normative to a considerable extent. As a precursor to establishing a BoK it is important to determine whether or not a target domain already contains sufficient ‘settled’ knowledge, and, if yes, how such knowledge can be identified for its reproduction. In the undisputed safety-critical railway domain, formal methods have been applied for several decades in the solution of various modelling and verification problems. The application of many of those formal methods in the railway domain has also reached sufficient levels of maturity or ‘stability’ — yet no BoK for this domain has ever been compiled so far. Thus the time is ripe now to start such a project. In this paper, with regard to the necessary identification of settled knowledge, we apply the lattice-theoretical methods of Formal Concept Analysis (FCA) in order to structure and organise large amounts of relevant bibliometric data from the railway domain’s corpus of literature. In other words, we construct a formal concept lattice, the semantics of which is suitable for revealing the ‘settled’ parts of this domain. As a result of our formalised domain analysis, we provide a clear and theoretically well-grounded indication of the ‘settled’ themes and topics which any future BoK on Formal Methods in the Railway Domain ought to contain.


Formal methods Railway domain Body of knowledge Settled knowledge Formal concept analysis Semantic lattices 



Many thanks to a number of experts, who have been helpful and supportive during the course of our project, especially: Sergei Obiedkov, Markus Roggenbach, Anne Haxthausen, Hannes Gräbe, Jackie van der Westhuizen, René Hosse, Jan Welte, Francesco Flammini, Hans True, Jérôme Lalouette, and Stefan Östlund. Many thanks also to the anonymous reviewers of FTSCS’15 for their constructive remarks. Last but not least many thanks to the workshop participants, particularly José Meseguer, for some interesting questions and comments during our meeting in Paris.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Computing and SoftwareMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  3. 3.Department of Computing and SoftwareMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada

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