Semiotic Considerations for the Design of an Agent-Oriented Modelling Language

  • Brian Henderson-Sellers
  • Graham Low
  • Cesar Gonzalez-Perez
Part of the Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing book series (LNBIP, volume 113)


Building on published guidelines for good design practice as applied to the creation of modelling languages, we consider the creation of an appropriate notation for a domain-specific modelling language for supporting agent-oriented information systems design. We begin by analyzing extant metamodels, in particular that for FAML, in order to visualize these ontological concepts as a concrete syntax that adheres to semiotic principles and good design heuristics. We seek a notation that is easy to understand by industry users, is ontologically correct and is underpinned by some theory – expressed here as the FAML metamodel.


concepts modelling language notation agents 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Henderson-Sellers, B., Gonzalez-Perez, C.: Mathematical Relationships Between Do-main-specific Modelling Languages, Ontologies and Metamodels. In: Reinhartz-Berger, I., Sturm, A., Clark, T., Cohen, S., Bettin, J. (eds.) Research Directions in Domain Engineering. Springer, Berlin (2012)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Constantine, L.L., Henderson-Sellers, B.: Notation Matters: Part 1 - Framing the Issues. Report on Object Analysis and Design 2(3), 25–29 (1995)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Constantine, L.L., Henderson-Sellers, B.: Notation Matters: Part 2 - Applying the Prin-ciples. Report on Object Analysis and Design 2(4), 20–23 (1995)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Moody, D.L., van Hillegersberg, J.: Evaluating the Visual Syntax of UML: An Analysis of the Cognitive Effectiveness of the UML Family of Diagrams. In: Proc. First Int’l Conf. Software Language Eng. (2008)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Moody, D.L.: The “Physics” of Notations: Toward a Scientific Basis for Constructing Visual Notations in Software Engineering. IEEE Trans. Software Eng. 35(6), 756–779 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Henderson-Sellers, B.: Creating a Comprehensive Agent-oriented Methodology - Using Method Engineering and the OPEN Metamodel. In: Henderson-Sellers, B., Giorgini, P. (eds.) Agent-Oriented Methodologies, ch.13, pp. 368–397. Idea Group, Hershey (2005)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Bernon, C., Cossentino, M., Gleizes, M.-P., Turci, P., Zambonelli, F.: A Study of Some Multi-agent Meta-models. In: Odell, J.J., Giorgini, P., Müller, J.P. (eds.) AOSE 2004. LNCS, vol. 3382, pp. 62–77. Springer, Heidelberg (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Padgham, L., Winikoff, M., DeLoach, S., Cossentino, M.: A Unified Graphical Notation for AOSE. In: Luck, M., Gomez-Sanz, J.J. (eds.) AOSE 2008. LNCS, vol. 5386, pp. 116–130. Springer, Heidelberg (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Henderson-Sellers, B., Giorgini, P. (eds.): Agent-Oriented Methodologies, p. 413. Idea Group (2005)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Bauer, B., Müller, J.P., Odell, J.: Agent UML: A Formalism for Specifying Multiagent Software Systems. In: Ciancarini, P., Wooldridge, M.J. (eds.) AOSE 2000. LNCS, vol. 1957, pp. 91–103. Springer, Heidelberg (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Silva, V., Garcia, A., Brandão, A., Chavez, C., Lucena, C., Alencar, P.: Taming Agents and Objects in Software Engineering. In: Garcia, A., et al. (eds.) SELMAS 2002. LNCS, vol. 2603, pp. 1–26. Springer, Heidelberg (2003)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Beydoun, G., Low, G., Henderson-Sellers, B., Mouratidis, H., Gomez-Sanz, J., Pavon, J., Gonzalez-Perez, C.: FAML: A Generic Metamodel for MAS Development. IEEE Trans. Software Eng. 35(6), 841–863 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Dupuy-Chessa, S.: Quality in Ubiquitous Information System Design. In: Flory, A., Collard, M. (eds.) Procs. Third International Conference on Research Challenges in Information Science (RCIS 2009), pp. 343–352. IEEE, Los Alamitos (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Rumbaugh, J.: Notation Notes: Principles for Choosing Notation. Journal of Object Oriented Programming 9(2), 11–14 (1996)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Peirce, C.S.: Collected Papers v. 2, paragraphs 243-263, written (circa 1903)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Larkin, J.H., Simon, H.A.: Why a Diagram is (Sometimes) Worth Ten Thousand Words. Cognitive Science 11(1), 65–100 (1987)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Siau, K.: Informational and Computational Equivalence in Comparing Informational Modelling Methods. J. Database Management 15(1), 73–86 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Opdahl, A., Henderson-Sellers, B.: Ontological Evaluation of the UML using the Bunge-Wand-Weber Model. Software and Systems Modelling 1(1), 43–67 (2002)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Bertin, J.: Semiology of Graphics: Diagrams, Networks, Maps. Univ. Wisconsin Press, Madison (1983)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Treisman, A.: Perception Grouping and Attention in Visual Search for Features and for Objects. J. Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 194–214 (1982)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Nordbotten, J.C., Crosby, M.E.: The Effect of Graphic Style on Data Model Interpretation. Information Systems J. 9(2), 139–156 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Vessey, I.: Cognitive Fit: A Theory-based Analysis of the Graphs Versus Tables Literature. Decision Science 22, 219–240 (1991)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Petre, M.: Why Looking isn’t Always Seeing: Readership Skills and Graphical Pro-gramming. Comms ACM 38(6), 33–44 (1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Schrepfer, M., Wolf, J., Mendling, J., Reijers, H.A.: The Impact of Secondary Notation on Process Model Understanding. In: Persson, A., Stirna, J. (eds.) PoEM 2009. LNBIP, vol. 39, pp. 161–175. Springer, Heidelberg (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Unhelkar, B., Henderson-Sellers, B.: Applying Syntax, Semantics and Aesthetic Checks to Verifying and Validating the Quality of UML Models. In: Procs. IRMA 2005. Idea Group, Hershey (2005)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Hay, D.C.: Data Model Patterns. Conventions of Thought. Dorset House Publishing Company (1996)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Gonzalez-Perez, C., Henderson-Sellers, B.: Metamodelling for Software Engineering, p. 210. J. Wiley & Sons, Chichester (2008)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    ISO/IEC: 24744 Software Engineering – Metamodel for Development Methodologies Annex A – Notation, International Organization for Standardization/International Electrotechnical Commission, Geneva (2010)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    ISO/IEC,: Software Engineering – Metamodel for Software Development. ISO/IEC 24744, Geneva, Switzerland (2007)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Gonzalez-Perez, C., Henderson-Sellers, B.: An ontology for software development methodologies and endeavours. In: Calero, C., Ruiz, F., Piattini, M. (eds.) Ontologies in Software Engineering and Software Technology, ch.4, pp. 123–152. Springer, Heidelberg (2006)Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Sousa, K., Vanderdonckt, J., Henderson-Sellers, B., Gonzalez-Perez, C.: Evaluating a Graphical Notation for Modelling Software Development Methodologies. Journal of Visual Languages and Computing (in press, 2012)Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Henderson-Sellers, B.: Consolidating Diagram Types from Several Agent-oriented Methodologies. In: Fujita, H. (ed.) New Trends in Software Methodologies, Tools and Techniques - Proceedings of the 9th SoMeT_10. Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence and Applications, vol. 217, pp. 293–345. IOS Press, The Netherlands (2010)Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Pavon, J., Gomez-Sanz, J.J., Fuentes, R.: The INGENIAS Methodology and Tools. In: Henderson-Sellers, B., Giorgini, P. (eds.) Agent-Oriented Methodologies, ch. IX, pp. 236–276. Idea Group, Hershey (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Yu, E.S.-K.: Modelling Strategic Relationships for Process Reengineering. unpubl. PhD thesis, University of Toronto, p. 124 (1995)Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Bresciani, P., Giorgini, P., Giunchiglia, F., Mylopolous, J., Perini, A.: Tropos: An Agent-oriented Software Development Methodology. Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems 8(3), 203–236 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Ware, C.: Visual Thinking for Design, p. 197. Morgan Kaufmann, Amsterdam (2008)Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Odell, J.: Power Types. Journal of Object-Oriented Programming 7(2), 8–12 (1994)Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Gonzalez-Perez, C., Henderson-Sellers, B.: A Powertype-based Metamodelling Framework. Software and Systems Modeling 5(1), 72–90 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Atkinson, C.: Supporting and Applying the UML Conceptual Framework. In: Bézivin, J., Muller, P.-A. (eds.) UML 1998. LNCS, vol. 1618, pp. 21–36. Springer, Heidelberg (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Atkinson, C., Gutheil, M., Kennel, B.: A Flexible Infrastructure for Multilevel Language Engineering. IEEE Trans. Software Eng. 35(6), 742–755 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Eriksson, O., Henderson-Sellers, B., Ågerfalk, P.: Ontological and Linguistic Metamodelling Revisited – A Language Use Approach. J. AIS (2011) (submitted)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian Henderson-Sellers
    • 1
  • Graham Low
    • 2
  • Cesar Gonzalez-Perez
    • 3
  1. 1.School of SoftwareUniversity of Technology SydneyBroadwayAustralia
  2. 2.UNSW School of Information Systems, Technology and Management, Australian School of BusinessUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Institute of Heritage Sciences (Incipit)Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)Santiago de CompostelaSpain

Personalised recommendations