Tamaike Brown

Date of Award

January 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Computer Science

First Advisor

Emanuel S. Grant


The UML (Unified Modeling Language) has its origin in mainstream software engineering and is often used informally by software designers. One of the limitations of UML is the lack of precision in its semantics, which makes its application to safety critical systems unsuitable. A safety critical system is one in which any loss or misinterpretation of data could lead to injury, loss of human lives and/or property. Safety Critical systems are usually specified by very precisely and frequently required formal verification. With the continuous use of UML in the software industry, there is a need to augment the informality of software models produced to remove ambiguity and inconsistency in models for verification and validation. To overcome this well-known limitation of UML, formal specification techniques (FSTs), which are mathematically tractable, are often used to represent these models.

Formal methods are mathematical techniques that allow software developers to produce softwares that address issues of ambiguity and error in complex and safety critical systems. By building a mathematically rigorous model of a complex system, it is possible to verify the system's properties in a more thorough fashion than empirical testing.

In this research, the author refines transformation rules for aspects of an informally defined design in UML to one that is verifiable, i.e. a formal specification notation. The specification language that is used is the Z Notation. The rules are applied to UML class diagram operation signatures iteratively, to derive Z schema representation of the operation signatures. Z representation may then be analyzed to detect flaws and determine where there is need to be more

precise in defining the operation signatures. This work is an extension of previous research that lack sufficient detail for it to be taken to the next phase, towards the implementation of a tool for semi-automated transformation.