Formal Foundations for Information-Preserving Model Synchronization Processes Based on Triple Graph Grammars
Restoring consistency between different information-sharing artifacts after one of them has been changed is an important problem that arises in several areas of computer science. In this thesis, we provide a solution to the basic model synchronization problem. There, a pair of such artifacts (models...
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|Restoring consistency between different information-sharing artifacts after one of them has been changed is an important problem that arises in several areas of computer science. In this thesis, we provide a solution to the basic model synchronization problem. There, a pair of such artifacts (models), one of which has been changed, is given and consistency shall be restored. Triple graph grammars (TGGs) are an established and suitable formalism to address this and related problems. Being based on the algebraic theory of graph transformation and (double-)pushout rewriting, they are especially suited to develop solutions whose properties can be formally proven. Despite being established, many TGG-based solutions do not satisfactorily deal with the problem of information loss. When one model is changed, in the process of restoring consistency such solutions may lose information that is only present in the second model because the synchronization process resorts to restoring consistency by re-translating (large parts of) the updated model. We introduce a TGG-based approach that supports advanced features of TGGs (attributes and negative constraints), is comprehensively formalized, implemented, and is incremental in the sense that it drastically reduces the amount of information loss compared to former approaches. Up to now, a TGG-based approach with these characteristics is not available.
The central contribution of this thesis is to formally develop that approach and to prove its essential properties, namely correctness, completeness, and termination. The crucial new idea in our approach is the use of repair rules, which are special rules that allow one to directly propagate changes from one model to the other instead of resorting to re-translation. To be able to construct and apply these repair rules, we contribute more fundamentally to the theory of algebraic graph transformation. First, we develop a new kind of sequential rule composition. Whereas the conventional composition of rules leads to rules that delete and re-create elements, we can compute rules that preserve such elements instead. Furthermore, technically the setting in which the synchronization process we develop takes place is the category of partial triple graphs and not the one of ordinary triple graphs. Hence, we have to ensure that the elaborate theory of double-pushout rewriting still applies. Therefore, we develop a (category-theoretic) construction of new categories from given ones and show that (i) this construction preserves the axioms that are necessary to develop the theory of double-pushout rewriting and (ii) partial triple graphs can be constructed as such a category. Together, those two more fundamental contributions enable us to develop our solution to the basic model synchronization problem in a fully formal manner and to prove its central properties.