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UML and SysML Behavior Modeling

Most interesting systems exhibit intentionally (and sometimes unintentionally) rich behavior. In order to capture complex behavior, both the UML and its SysML derivative provide a variety of diagrams to choose from. As the table below shows, the UML defines 7 behavior diagram types and the SysML provides a subset of 4 of those 7.

Behavior Diags

Activity diagrams are a richer, more expressive enhancement to the classic, stateless, flowchart. Use case diagrams capture a graphical view of high level, text-based functional requirements. State machine diagrams are used to model behaviors that are a function of current inputs and past history. Sequence diagrams highlight the role of “time” in the protocol interactions between SysML blocks or UML objects.

What’s intriguing to me is why the SysML didn’t include the Timing diagram in its behavioral set of diagrams. The timing diagram emphasizes the role of time in a different and more precise way than the sequence diagram. Although one can express precise, quantitative timing constraints on a sequence diagram, mixing timing precision with protocol rules can make the diagram much more complicated to readers than dividing the concerns between a sequence diagram and timing diagram pair. Exclusion of the timing diagram is even more mysterious to me because timing constraints are very important in the design of hard/soft real-time systems. Incorrect timing behavior in a system can cause at least as much financial or safety loss as the production of incorrect logical outputs. Maybe the OMG and INCOSE will reconsider their decision to exclude the timing diagramin their next SysML revision?

  1. August 31, 2009 at 12:04 am

    I agree that timing diagrams should be part of SysML. To answer your question “Maybe the OMG and INCOSE will reconsider their decision to exclude the timing diagramin their next SysML revision?”: Yes, we are discussing that issue:
    http://www.omg.org/issues/sysml-rtf.open.html#Issue10642

    Tim

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