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Using Architectural Description Languages to Improve Software Quality and Correctness


Architectural Description Languages (ADLs) provide a means to model and analyze software architectures in order to improve software quality and correctness. SSD supports the adoption and standardization of ADL technology for industrial use by demonstrating its applicability to challenging, current problems in industrial software.




A software architecture describes the structure and behavior of a software system and the non-software entities the system interfaces with. In a software architecture, a system is represented as a set of software components, their connections, and their important behavioral interactions. Creating a software architecture promotes better understanding of the system, thus aiding the design process. It also provides a basis for rigorous analysis of the system design, making possible the early detection of design errors and flaws that lead to improvements in software quality and help ensure correctness.


An architectural description language (ADL) is used to describe a software architecture. An ADL may be a formal or semi-formal descriptive language, a graphics language, or include both. The advantage of using an ADL lies in the ability to rigorously specify an architecture so that it can be analyzed. An ADL may have associated with it a set of tools for doing useful analysis of architectures specified in the language. In recent years, there has been a considerable amount of research into developing ADLs.




A number of experimental ADLs have been devised.STATEMENT These include:


ACME, AESOP, UNICON, and WRIGHT (Carnegie-Mellon University)


GEN-VOCA(University of Texas)


Meta-H (Honeywell)


RAPIDE (Stanford University)


Structural Architectural Description Language “SADL”
(SRI International)


xADL (University of California, Irvine)


Of course, this list is not inclusive. If you want us to consider adding another ADL to this page, please contact us.




SSD applies expert knowledge in system architecture design and analysis to use ADLs to construct software architectures that address challenging, current problems relevant to industry. We then use associated ADL tools to analyze architectures and show how the quality and correctness of a software design can be improved. By demonstrating the value of this new technology, SSD seeks to bridge the gap between the research and commercial communities, a unique role. In addition, we provide feedback to the ADL research community to how to improve ADLs as tools for software specificationand analysis.


Current Projects:

Evaluation of the Suitability of Architectural Description Languages(ADLs)For Analysis of Dynamic Service Discovery Protocols.


Past Efforts:

Using Architectural Description Languages to Formalize the NIST Real Time Control System Reference Model (Page to be built).




Despite the relative newness of this technology, several standard efforts have begun that seek to provide a standardized way of describing software architectures.


The Avionics Architectural Description Language (AADL) is being standardized by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) AS-5D Architecture Description Language Subcommittee. The AADL uses the Meta-H specification as a baseline document.


IEEE-Std-1471-2000, Recommended Practice for Architectural Description of Software-Intensive Systems.


Architecture Description Markup Language (ADML) by the Open Group.


If you want tell us of another related standardization effort, please contact us.


STATEMENT Certain commercial products or company names are identified here to describe our study adequately. Such identification is not intended to imply recommendation or endorsement by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, nor is it intended to imply that the products or names identified are necessarily the best available for the purpose.
  Last modified July 14, 2008.

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