Model Driven Engineering 

Note that this page still contains last year's material, to give you an idea of what is to come. It will soon be replaced by a planning for this year as well as new assignments.

Note that this page is still under construction. Some material is still last year's.

Lecturers: Prof. Dr. Hans Vangheluwe, Prof. Dr. Moharram Challenger.

Lab Assistant: Randy Paredis.

In the first semester 2020-21 version of this course you will find recordings of last year's 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 UA course description can be found here.

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 (architecture, behaviour), and their deployment, to the explicit modelling of modelling languages. This meta-modelling 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 15%
Assignments 10% - 20% per assignment 70%
Project presentation 15%

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 the online sessions in the course announcements on Blackboard








1 Friday 1 October 16:00 -- 18:00 Theory M.G.004 Domain-Specific Modelling: the need for Modelling Language Engineering;
Modelling Languages: Meta-Modelling
2 Wednesday 6 October 08:30 -- 10:30 Lab Session M.G.026 Tutorial: MetaDepth
2 Assignment Assignment 1: Production System (Meta-)Modelling in metaDepth
2 Friday 8 October 16:00 -- 18:00 Theory M.G.004 Paper discussion: "Matters of Metamodelling"
3 Wednesday 13 October 08:30 -- 10:30 Lab Session M.G.026 Work on assignment 1 (metaDepth)
3 Friday 15 October 16:00 -- 18:00 Theory online (streaming in M.G.004) Modelling Languages: Concrete (Visual) Syntax, Unifying Model- and Screen Sharing
lecture recording: part 1, part 2
4 Tuesday 19 October 23:59 Deadline Blackboard Assignment 1: Production System (meta-)modelling in metaDepth
4 Wednesday 20 October 08:30 -- 10:30 Lab Session M.G.026 Tutorial: (meta-)modelling and concrete visual syntax in AToMPM
4 Assignment Assignment 2: (Meta-)Modelling in AToMPM
4 Friday 22 October 16:00 -- 18:00 Theory M.G.004 Modelling Languages: Matters of (meta-)Modelling
5 Wednesday 27 October 08:30 -- 10:30 Lab Session M.G.026 Continue to work on Assignment 2 (abstract and concrete syntax in AToMPM)
5 Friday 29 October 16:00 -- 17:30 Evaluation M.G.004 Micro theory exam: meta-modelling, concrete visual syntax, semantics
6 Wednesday 3 November 08:30 -- 10:30 Lab Session No class
6 Friday 5 November 16:00 -- 18:00 Theory online (M.G.004 available) Meaningful Modeling: What's the Semantics of "Semantics"?
The "Heart and Soul of Model Driven Engineering": (rule-based) Model Transformation
lecture recording: part 1, part 2
7 Tuesday 9 November 23:59 Deadline Blackboard Assignment 2: Production System (meta-)modelling and concrete visual syntax in AToMPM
7 Wednesday 10 November 08:30 -- 10:30 Lab Session M.G.026 Tutorial: endogenous rule-based model transformation in AToMPM
7 Assignment Assignment 3: Operational Semantics in AToMPM
7 Friday 12 November 16:00 -- 18:00 Theory No class -- Armistice
8 Wednesday 17 November 08:30 -- 10:30 Lab Session M.G.026 Continue work on assignment 3
8 Friday 19 November 16:00 -- 17:00 Theory online Groove (guest lecture by Prof. Arend Rensink)
lecture recording, slides [pdf]
examples from the talk:, (wolf goat cabbage),,,
9 Tuesday 23 November 23:59 Deadline Blackboard Assignment 3: Operational Semantics in AToMPM
9 Wednesday 24 November 08:30 -- 10:30 Lab Session M.G.026 Tutorial: exogenous model transformation in AToMPM
9 Assignment Assignment 4: Transformation to Petri-Nets in AToMPM
9 Friday 26 November 16:00 -- 18:00 Theory M.G.005 Specifying and Implementing Model Transformations
10 Wednesday 1 December 08:30 -- 10:30 Lab Session M.G.026 Continue work on assignment 4
10 Friday 3 December 16:00 -- 18:00 Theory online (M.G.004 available) Specifying and Implementing Model Transformations: scheduling languages, RAMification, pivot/scope, matching
lecture recording: part 1, part 2
11 Tuesday 7 December 23:59 Deadline Blackboard Assignment 4: Transformation to Petri-Nets in AToMPM
11 Wednesday 8 December 08:30 -- 10:30 Lab Session M.G.026 Tutorial: AToMPM code Synthesis using EGL and metaDepth
lab recording
11 Assignment Assignment 5: Code Generation in AToMPM
11 Friday 10 December 16:00 -- 18:00 Theory recorded (M.G.004 available) Product Family/Variability modelling and Product Line Engineering
lecture recording
12 Wednesday 15 December 08:30 -- 10:30 No Class ask questions about assignment via e-mail (a Teams meeting will be scheduled if needed)
12 Friday 17 December 16:00 -- 17:00 Theory online (M.G.004 available) ProMoBox
lecture recording
13 Tuesday 21 December 23:59 Deadline Blackboard Assignment 5: Code Synthesis in AToMPM
13 Wednesday 22 December 08:30 -- 10:30 No Class
Tuesday 25 January 23:59 Deadline Project presentation submission (via e-mail)
Friday 28 January morning (timing TBA) Evaluation M.G.005 Project presentations (you need to be present for all presentations)
Friday 28 January 14:30 -- 17:30 Evaluation M.G.005 Theory Exam

  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]

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]

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).

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, A Tool for Multi-Paradim Modelling. (AToMPM's website)
To whet your appetite: the AToMPM teaser video for the MoDELS 2013 conference.
A tutorial on AToMPM can be found here.
The AToMPM user manual.

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 70% of the course grade.

All assignments are in the domain of production engineering.
Different versions of a modelling language ManufacturingLang will be developed:

1. [10%] Abstract Syntax and Operational semantics in metaDepth.
2. [10%] Abstract and Concrete Visual Syntax in AToMPM.
3. [20%] Operational (rule-based) Semantics in AToMPM.
4. [20%] Translational Semantics in AToMPM with Traceability and Animation.
5. [10%] Template Based Model-to-Text Transformation using EGL; Property Language Modelling.

  Reading and Presentations

Choose one from the overview of possible topics (and links to the papers to read). These 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).

Presentation info

  • Maxim Gonnissen: Daniel Jackson. Alloy. A lightweight object modelling notation. [pdf].
  • Christoph Ronken: Bedir Tekinerdogan, Cor Verdouw. Systems Architecture Design Pattern Catalog for Developing Digital Twins. [pptx].
  • Max Van Houcke: Martin Fowler. Language Workbenches: The Killer- App for Domain Specific Languages? [pdf].
  • Mert Can: Simon Van Mierlo, Claudio Gomes, Hans Vangheluwe. Explicit modelling and synthesis of debuggers for hybrid simulation languages. [pdf].
  • Dogukan Altay: Bedir Tekinerdogan, Cor Verdouw. Systems Architecture Design Pattern Catalog for Developing Digital Twins. [pptx].
  • Thimoty Smet: Cécile Hardebolle, Frédéric Boulanger. Exploring Multi-Paradigm Modeling Techniques. [pdf].
  • Thomas Van Onsem: Andreas Demuth, Markus Riedl-Ehrenleitner, Alexander Nöhrer, Peter Hehenberger, Klaus Zeman, and Alexander Egyed. DesignSpace: an infrastructure for multi-user/multi-tool engineering. [pdf].
  • Beau De Clerq: Daniel Jackson. Towards a theory of conceptual design for software. [pptx].
Maintained by Hans Vangheluwe. Last Modified: 2022/08/29 00:46:47.