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Zhang, Gefei (2010): Aspect-Oriented State Machines. Dissertation, LMU München: Faculty of Mathematics, Computer Science and Statistics
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Abstract

UML state machines are a widely used language for modeling software behavior. They are considered to be simple and intuitively comprehensible, and are hence one of the most popular languages for modeling reactive components. However, this seeming ease to use vanishes rapidly as soon as the complexity of the system to model increases. In fact, even state machines modeling ``almost trivial'' behavior may get rather hard to understand and error-prone. In particular, synchronization of parallel regions and history-based features are often difficult to model in UML state machines. We therefore propose High-Level Aspect (HiLA), a new, aspect-oriented extension of UML state machines, which can improve the modularity, thus the comprehensibility and reusability of UML state machines considerably. Aspects are used to define additional or alternative system behaviors at certain ``interesting'' points of time in the execution of the state machine, and achieve a high degree of separation of concerns. The distinguishing feature of HiLA w.r.t. other approaches of aspect-oriented state machines is that HiLA aspects are defined on a high, i.e. semantic level as opposed to a low, i.e. syntactic level. This semantic approach makes \HiLA aspects often simpler and better comprehensible than aspects of syntactic approaches. The contributions of this thesis include 1) the abstract and the concrete syntax of HiLA, 2) the weaving algorithms showing how the (additional or alternative) behaviors, separately modeled in aspects, are composed with the base state machine, giving the complete behavior of the system, 3) a formal semantics for HiLA aspects to define how the aspects are activated and (after the execution) left. We also discuss what conflicts between HiLA aspects are possible and how to detect them. The practical applicability of HiLA is shown in a case study of a crisis management system.