D32 Modes and Fault Tolerance
The Mode and Fault Tolerance Views plug-in is a modelling environment for constructing modal and fault tolerance features in a concise manner and formally linking them to Event-B models. Fault tolerance part adds additional structural checks and reserves a place to trace FT requirements.
A Mode/FT view is a graph diagram containing modes and transitions. A mode is a general characterisation of a system behaviour. It specifies a level of functionality and operating conditions under which the system provides this functionality. A system switches between modes through mode transitions. A mode diagram is associated with an Event-B model by mapping modes and transitions into sets of events. A correct mode diagram must exhibit an internal consistency, while the associated Event-B model is enforced to implement the mode diagram by a number of proof obligations.
A user builds and checks a Mode/FT view in the diagram editor, makes a link to an Event-B model, and proves that the model indeed implements the view. Consequent Mode/FT views construct a refinement chain alongside Event-B development. Such chain assists the main development with an orthogonal set of documents and additional proof obligations.
The plug-in was developed in Newcastle University.
We have conducted a study of approaches to complex critical systems development, and the requirements documents within DEPLOY, and arrived at the following:
- Separation of concerns is a major approach to tackle the complexity of the systems development.
- A large amount of critical systems are developed using a notion of operation modes.
- All critical systems involve operations with important aspects of human activity (e.g. lives, finance) hence critical. And all of them inevitably have faults due to changing environmental conditions, hardware failures etc. A high percentage of requirements to such systems (up to 40% according to our study within DEPLOY) include fault tolerance as a way to mitigate the consequences of errors.
- Requirements evolve, including FT.
There were neither mode nor fault tolerance viewpoints in the state of the art Event-B development. The UML-B approach of statecharts is closely related to modal views. However, the statecharts drive the development by generating Event-B models as opposed to the mode views which facilitate the development by leaving the Event-B modelling activity with the user. On the fault tolerance side, we are aware of the work on ProR framework for tracing requirements, and we plan to integrate the tracing framework with our modelling approach.
The Mode/FT Views approach is to assist the main Event-B development by an additional set of abstractions and a toolset to facilitate modal and fault tolerance development. We were motivated by the following stimuli:
- Facilitate the modal and fault tolerance development in Event-B with a comprehensible modelling approach.
- Stimulate the consideration of fault tolerance at the very first phases of development.
- Explicitly covering mode and fault tolerance concerns, we wanted to improve the requirement traceability and fulfilment.
- Help make planning decisions. Focusing the developer attention on specific aspects of development leads to better understanding of the problem and planning of the solution.
- Provide consistent way of stepwise development of mode and FT aspects by a notion of views refinement.
Choices / Decisions
The main objective in the tool design was to make a simple to use environment that can be used by a non-Event-B user (e.g. requirements engineer, fault tolerance specialist), yet provides the necessary functionality for an Event-B modeller. The tool was designed to be as much an external environment to Event-B models as possible.
- We decided not to extend the Rodin database with modal and fault tolerance elements and to keep them as separate models. This led to less platform dependencies and easier maintenance.
- The static check is also separated from the Rodin SC, and realized by the GMF validation since it does not logically belong to Rodin / Event-B. However, since the proofs are a part of the modelling process, we properly extended the Rodin proof obligation generator.
- A modal/FT document specifies which abstract document from the project it refines. This way our modal refinement mimics the Event-B refinement chain and allows our tool to be used with the existing types of decomposition / modularisation.
- During the initial experiments we have identified a possible need for multiple views on a single model. We decided to keep the reference to the machine in the views which allowed to create any number of views on the same model without any changes in the machine.
There is a wiki page with details of the plug-in functionality, installation guide, and a simple example.
Also, we are working on a medium-scale case study and constantly improving the usability of the tool.
Current status is version 1.0.0 for Rodin 2.0 In a long term we plan:
- A few possible usability improvements
- Integration with ProR requirements tracing framework
- Event-B model generation and editing driven by FT patterns