Semantics and Verification of UML Activity Diagrams for Workflow Modelling

H. Eshuis

    Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

    662 Downloads (Pure)


    This thesis defines a formal semantics for UML activity diagrams that is suitable for workflow modelling. The semantics allows verification of functional requirements using model checking. Since a workflow specification prescribes how a workflow system behaves, the semantics is defined and motivated in terms of workflow systems. As workflow systems are reactive and coordinate activities, the defined semantics reflects these aspects. In fact, two formal semantics are defined, which are completely different. Both semantics are defined directly in terms of activity diagrams and not by a mapping of activity diagrams to some existing formal notation. The requirements-level semantics, based on the Statemate semantics of statecharts, assumes that workflow systems are infinitely fast w.r.t. their environment and react immediately to input events (this assumption is called the perfect synchrony hypothesis). The implementation-level semantics, based on the UML semantics of statecharts, does not make this assumption. Due to the perfect synchrony hypothesis, the requirements-level semantics is unrealistic, but easy to use for verification. On the other hand, the implementation-level semantics is realistic, but difficult to use for verification. A class of activity diagrams and a class of functional requirements is identified for which the outcome of the verification does not depend upon the particular semantics being used, i.e., both semantics give the same result. For such activity diagrams and such functional requirements, the requirements-level semantics is as realistic as the implementation-level semantics, even though the requirements-level semantics makes the perfect synchrony hypothesis. The requirements-level semantics has been implemented in a verification tool. The tool interfaces with a model checker by translating an activity diagram into an input for a model checker according to the requirements-level semantics. The model checker checks the desired functional requirement against the input model. If the model checker returns a counterexample, the tool translates this counterexample back into the activity diagram by highlighting a path corresponding to the counterexample. The tool supports verification of workflow models that have event-driven behaviour, data, real time, and loops. Only model checkers supporting strong fairness model checking turn out to be useful. The feasibility of the approach is demonstrated by using the tool to verify some real-life workflow models.
    Original languageUndefined
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Twente
    • Wieringa, Roelf Johannes, Supervisor
    Award date25 Nov 2002
    Place of PublicationEnschede
    Print ISBNs9036518202
    Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2002


    • METIS-207652
    • EWI-12943
    • IR-64834

    Cite this