Model Driven Engineering 

Note that this page still contains some of 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.

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

Lab Assistant: Joeri Exelmans.

This is the first semester of the 2022-2023 academic year version of this course. Have a look at Prof. Vangheluwe's teaching page for other 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 may deviate in some parts. The recordings are provided as background material. 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 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 60%
Project reading part (70% on report, 30% on presentation) 5%
Project project part (30% on report, 50% on work, 20% on presentation) 20%

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







1 Wednesday 28 September 09:00 -- 10:30 Theory M.G.016 Domain-Specific Modelling: the need for Modelling Language Engineering
1 Friday 30 September 16:00 -- 18:00 Theory M.G.004 Matters of Metamodelling
2 Wednesday 5 October 08:30 -- 10:30 Lab Session M.G.026 Tutorial: MetaDepth
Example FSA formalism in MetaDepth
2 Assignment Assignment 1: ShipML in MetaDepth
2 Friday 7 October 16:00 -- 18:00 Theory M.G.004 Matters of Metamodelling
3 Wednesday 12 October 08:30 -- 10:30 Lab Session M.G.026 Work on assignment 1 (metaDepth)
3 Friday 14 October 16:00 -- 18:00 Theory recording Modelling Languages: Concrete (Visual) Syntax, Unifying Model- and Screen Sharing
lecture recording: part 1, part 2
4 Wednesday 19 October 08:30 -- 10:30 Lab Session M.G.026 Tutorial: (meta-)modelling and concrete visual syntax in AToMPM
Example FSA formalism (concrete + abstract syntax) in AToMPM
4 Assignment Assignment 2: (Meta-)Modelling in AToMPM
4 Wednesday 19 October 23:59 Deadline Blackboard Assignment 1: ShipML metaDepth
4 Friday 21 October 16:00 -- 17:00 Theory recording Meaningful Modeling: What's the Semantics of "Semantics"?
5 Wednesday 26 October 08:30 -- 10:30 No class (you can continue working on your 2nd assignment)
5 Friday 28 October 16:00 -- 18:00 Theory M.G.004 The "Heart and Soul of Model Driven Engineering": (rule-based) Model Transformation
6 Wednesday 2 November 23:59 Deadline Blackboard Assignment 2: ShipML AToMPM concrete + abstract syntax
6 Wednesday 2 November 08:30 -- 10:30 no class
7 Wednesday 9 November 08:30 -- 10:30 Lab Session M.G.026 Tutorial: rule-based operational semantics in AToMPM
7 Assignment Assignment 3: Rule-based operational semantics in AToMPM
Example FSA formalism (with rule-based operational semantics) (also the starting point of the tutorial)
Example FSA instance (to test rule-based operational semantics)
7 Friday 11 November 16:00 -- 18:00 Theory No class -- Armistice
8 Wednesday 16 November 08:30 -- 10:30 Lab Session M.G.026 Work on assignment 3 (rule-based operational semantics in AToMPM)
8 Friday 18 November 16:00 -- 18:00 Theory M.G.004 Model Transformations, scheduling languages
9 Wednesday 23 November 08:30 -- 10:30 Lab Session M.G.026 Work on assignment 3 (rule-based operational semantics in AToMPM)
10 Wednesday 30 November 08:30 -- 10:30 Lab Session M.G.026 Tutorial: Model transformations with traceability
10 Assignment Assignment 4: Translational semantics with traceability in AToMPM
PNS ("Petri-Net with Schedule") formalism
10 Wednesday 30 November 23:59 Deadline Blackboard Assignment 3: Rule-based operational semantics in AToMPM
10 Friday 2 December 16:00 -- 17:00 Theory recording (M.G.004 available) Related DSLs for Properties (Requirements) and Design -- ProMoBox
lecture recording
11 Wednesday 7 December 08:30 -- 10:30 Lab Session M.G.026 Work on assignment 4 (translational semantics with traceability in AToMPM)
12 Wednesday 14 December 08:30 -- 10:30 Lab Session M.G.026 Tutorial: Model-to-text transformation
12 Assignment Assignment 5: Model-to-text transformation
12 Wednesday 14 December 23:59 Deadline Blackboard Assignment 4: Translational semantics with traceability in AToMPM
Tuesday 3 January 23:59 Deadline Blackboard Assignment 5: Model-to-text transformation

  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'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 70% of the course grade.

All assignments are in the domain of maritime transport.
Different versions of a domain-specific modelling language 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.
Maintained by Hans Vangheluwe. Last Modified: 2023/09/24 21:27:00.