A method for building and evaluating formal specifications of object-oriented conceptual models of database systems

Roelf J. Wieringa

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    This report describes a method called MCM (Method for Conceptual Modeling) for building and evaluating formal specifications of object-oriented models of database system behavior. An important aim of MCM is to bridge the gap between formal specification and informal understanding. Building a MCM model is a process that moves from the informal to the formal, evaluating the model is a process that moves back from the formal to the informal. First, a general framework for information system development methods is given, that is used to indicate which elements are needed to build a particular information system development method. In general, the following elements are needed (see figure 0.1) l. Requirements determination methods that can be used to determine the information needs of the environment, and to find functional and nonfunctional requirements specifications. 2. Conceptual modeling methods that can be used to elaborate the statement of functional require­ ments into a formal specification of observable system behavior. 3. Implementation methods that can be used to transform the conceptual model specification into an implementation within the constraints indicated by the nonfunctional requirements. 4. Project management methods that can be used to manage the development process in the presence of limited resources and a potentially disturbing environment. MCM is a conceptual modeling method, and must therefore in any information system development project be supplemented with three other kinds of methods. MCM contains three kinds of methods (figure 0.1). 1. Observation methods to find relevant data about the required database system. 2. Induction methods that allow one to go from a finite set of data about required system behavior to a conceptual model that represents all of this behavior. 3. Evaluation methods that allow one to test the quality of a specification of a conceptual model. In this report, I concentrate on induction and evaluation methods and merely make a list of relevant observation methods. The induction methods listed in figure 0.1 are not exhaustive. MCM can be viewed as a framework within which methods and techniques for conceptual modeling can be plugged. Some of these methods and techniques are mentioned in this report but not elaborated. There are three kinds of evaluation methods, that deal with the validity of the conceptual model, the utility of the specified behavior, and the quality of the use that is made of the available modeling constructs. Prototyping and animation are briefly discussed as evaluation methods. The quality checks, however, are listed exhaustively. The result of following MCM is a conceptual model. In the philosophy of MCM, a conceptual model consists of three components (see figure 0.2): 1. The UoD model is a model of the part of reality represented by the database system. 2. The DBS model represents DBS behavior, such as the queries to be asked from the DBS, the user interface, the contents and layout of reports produced by the DBS, etc. 3. A model of the boundary between the DBS and the UoD. This is a list of all possible transactions that the DBS can engage in, plus the function that this behavior has for the user of the DBS.
    Original languageUndefined
    Place of PublicationAmsterdam
    PublisherVrije Universiteit Amsterdam
    Number of pages136
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 1993

    Publication series

    NameTechnical Report / Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science
    PublisherFree University, Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science


    • EWI-10716
    • IR-80488
    • SCS-Services

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