Model Driven Engineering 

This is the first semester of the 2023-2024 academic year version of this course. Have a look at Prof. Vangheluwe's teaching page for earlier incarnations of this course.

In the first semester 2020-21 version of this course you will find recordings of online lectures. Though this year's course will cover roughly the same material, it does deviate in some parts. The recordings are provided as background material, not as a replacement for the lectures. You should attend all lectures.

  Course Description and Learning Outcomes

This is a mandatory course for the major in Software Engineering, and an elective for other majors. It is taught in the first year, first semester of the Master in Computer Science at the University of Antwerp.

The official UA course number is 2001WETMTR.

The course is taught in English.

The course is an introduction to Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE), with as ultimate goal to increase the quality of the systems we build and the speed at which we build them. The course goes beyond the mere use of models to specify system requirements, designs (structure, behaviour), and their deployment, to the explicit modelling of modelling languages. This not only gives deeper insight in exisiting modelling languages, but also allows one to design new, Domain-Speficific Modelling Languages (DSMLs). Syntax as well as Semantics of languages need to be specified. Graphs and their (rule-based) transformation play an important role in modelling and modelling language engineering as any kind of model can always be symbolically represented as a typed attributed graph. The many techniques (meta-modelling, model transformation, physics of notation, ...) and issues (trace-ability, debugging, modelling language evolution, ...) are studied.

At the end of the course, you will have a deep understanding of (domain-specific) modelling languages and you will be able to construct your own, in particular for new application domains. You will know how to build supporting editing environments, translators, debuggers, etc.

  Assessment Methods and Criteria

Theory exam written 20%
Assignments 10% - 23% per assignment (depending on amount of work) 68%
Reading presentation 12%

Note that you need to attend all parts of the course and submit all assignments to pass. If not, your grade will be "AFW" - absent. If you do attend/submit every part, you still need an overall score of 50% to pass the course. Additionally, if for at least one part (theory exam, sum of all assignments, project) your score is strictly below 40%, your overall grade will be min(7, your_score). your_score is the score you would get when applying the weights given above.

For the supplemental exam period, partial exemptions for specific parts of the course may be given. This must be requested explicitly and is discussed individually.

The theory exam will cover the highlighted papers in the Lectures and References section below. It is intended to refresh your knowledge of the topics covered in the theory lectures.


You can find the URLs of online sessions in the course announcements on Blackboard

  Lectures and References

Class scribbles.

Domain-Specific Modelling Languages: the need for Modelling Language Engineering
Presentation [pdf]. This presentation covers Domain-Specific Modelling (DSM) and Meta-Modelling (and some more not covered in class).

Modelling Languages: Meta-Modelling (Abstract Syntax)
Thomas Kühne. Matters of (Meta-) Modeling. Software and System Modeling 5(4): 369-385. 2006. [pdf].
Linguistic Conformance Check (as implemented in the Modelverse).
Colin Atkinson and Thomas Kühne. Rearchitecting the UML infrastructure. ACM Transactions on Modeling and Computer Simulation (TOMACS). Volume 12, Issue 4. pp 290 - 321. October 2002. [pdf].
Jean-Marie Favre. Megamodelling and Etymology. Proceedings of Dagstuhl Seminar 05161 - Transformation Techniques in Software Engineering. 2006. [pdf].
Jonathan Sprinkle, Bernhard Rumpe, Hans Vangheluwe, and Gabor Karsai. Metamodelling: State of the Art and Research Challenges. In Model-Based Engineering of Embedded Real-Time Systems. Volume 6100 of Lecture Notes in Computer Science, chapter 3, pages 57-76. Springer 2011. [pdf].

Modelling Languages: Concrete Visual Syntax
Presentation [pdf].
G. Costagliola, A. Delucia, S. Orefice and G. Polese. A Classification Framework to Support the Design of Visual Languages, Journal of Visual Languages and Computing, Volume 13, Issue 6, December 2002, pages 573-600. [pdf].
Daniel L. Moody. The "Physics" of Notations: Toward a Scientific Basis for Constructing Visual Notations in Software Engineering. IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, vol. 35, no. 6, pp. 756-779, November/December, 2009. [pdf].
Presentation [pdf].
Yentl Van Tendeloo, Hans Vangheluwe. Unifying Model- and Screen Sharing. WETICE 2018. pp. 127-132. [pdf].
Presentation [pdf]. (Unicode) Characters vs. Glyphs.

Modelling Languages: Semantics
Presentation [pdf].
David Harel, Bernhard Rumpe. Meaningful Modeling: What's the Semantics of "Semantics"?, IEEE Computer, vol. 37, no. 10, pp. 64-72, October, 2004. [pdf].
David Harel, Bernhard Rumpe. Syntax, Semantics, and all that stuff (the original technical report on which the IEEE Computer paper is based).
Hans Vangheluwe and Juan de Lara. Computer Automated Multi-Paradigm Modelling for Analysis and Design of Traffic Networks. Winter Simulation Conference 2004, pages 249-258. [pdf]. Presentation [pdf].

Model Transformation
Model Transformation. Presentation [pdf].
Thomas Kuehne, Gergely Mezei, Eugene Syriani, Hans Vangheluwe, and Manuel Wimmer. Explicit transformation modeling. In Models in Software Engineering, Workshops and Symposia at MODELS 2009, Revised Selected Papers, volume 6002 of Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS), pages 240-255. Springer-Verlag, 2010. [pdf]

Related DSLs for Properties (Requirements) and Design
ProMoBox. Presentation [pdf]
Bart Meyers, Romuald Deshayes, Levi Lucio, Eugene Syriani, Hans Vangheluwe, Manuel Wimmer. ProMoBox: A Framework for Generating Domain-Specific Property Languages. SLE 2014: 1-20. Springer (or on researchergate).
Bart Meyers, Hans Vangheluwe, Joachim Denil, Rick Salay. A Framework for Temporal Verification Support in Domain-Specific Modelling. IEEE Trans. Software Eng. 46(4): 362-404 (2020). IEEE (or on researchergate).

Variability. Presentation [pdf]
Krzysztof Czarnecki: Overview of Generative Software Development. UPP 2004: 326-341. [pdf]
K.C. Kang, H. Lee. Variability Modeling. In R. Capilla et al., Systems and Software Variability Management. pp. 25 - 42. Springer 2013. (or on semanticscholar)
Thorsten Berger, Stefan Stanciulescu, Ommund Øgård, Øystein Haugen, Bo Larsen, Andrzej Wasowski. To connect or not to connect: experiences from modeling topological variability. In Stefania Gnesi, Alessandro Fantechi, editors, 18th International Software Product Line Conference, SPLC '14, Florence, Italy - September 15 - 19, 2014. pages 330 - 339, ACM, 2014. [pdf]

Adding workflow: FTG+PM
Formalism Transformation Graph and Process Model. Presentation [pdf]
Sadaf Mustafiz, Joachim Denil, Levi Lucio, Hans Vangheluwe. The FTG+PM Framework for Multi-Paradigm Modelling: An Automotive Case Study. Proceedings of the 6th International Workshop on Multi-Paradigm Modeling. MODELS '12 ACM/IEEE 15th International Conference on Model Driven Engineering Languages and Systems. October 2012. Innsbruck, Austria. [pdf]

Multi-Paradigm Modelling (MPM)
Moussa Amrani, Dominique Blouin, Robert Heinrich, Arend Rensink, Hans Vangheluwe, Adreas Wortmann. Multi-paradigm modelling for cyber-physical systems: a descriptive framework. Softw Syst Model 20, 611 - 639 (2021).


metaDepth, a framework for multi-level meta-modelling
A package for Atom, a hackable text editor that enables a basic syntax highlighting for metaDepth can be downloaded here.

AToMPM's website
AToMPM's GitHub <- download AToMPM here
To whet your appetite: the AToMPM teaser video for the MoDELS 2013 conference.
A tutorial on AToMPM can be found here.
The AToMPM documentation on creating a modeling language (concrete + abstract syntax).

LoLA, a Petri-Net analyser. Only for Linux! (Windows users could use Cygwin)


The weight of each assignment is given between [square brackets] as a percentage of the total course grade. The combined assignments count for 60% of the course grade.
As this year, there is no fifth assignment, the adjusted grades are shown in red.

All assignments are in the domain of road traffic.
Different versions of a domain-specific modelling language will be developed:

1. [15%] [10%] Abstract Syntax and Operational semantics in metaDepth.
2. [10%] [10%] Abstract and Concrete Visual Syntax in AToMPM.
3. [20%] [15%] Operational (rule-based) Semantics in AToMPM.
4. [23%] [15%] Translational Semantics in AToMPM with Traceability.
5. (not this year) [10%] Template Based Model-to-Text Transformation using EGL; Property Language Modelling.

  Reading and Presentations

The topics go beyond the basics taught in the theory lectures and practiced in the assignments. The topics cover a range of important papers on Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) to expose you to a broader range of MDE techniques.
You will give a presentation of the paper you have chosen. Time for these presentations has been reserved in the exam schedule on Monday 15 January 2024 9:00 -- 16:00.
You must attend all presentations.

Presentation info

Maintained by Hans Vangheluwe. Last Modified: 2024/01/22 08:33:25.