Supporting software evolution in agent systems

Dam, K 2008, Supporting software evolution in agent systems, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Computer Science and Information Technology, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Supporting software evolution in agent systems
Author(s) Dam, K
Year 2008
Abstract Software maintenance and evolution is arguably a lengthy and expensive phase in the life cycle of a software system. A critical issue at this phase is change propagation: given a set of primary changes that have been made to software, what additional secondary changes are needed to maintain consistency between software artefacts? Although many approaches have been proposed, automated change propagation is still a significant technical challenge in software maintenance and evolution.

Our objective is to provide tool support for assisting designers in propagating changes during the process of maintaining and evolving models. We propose a novel, agent-oriented, approach that works by repairing violations of desired consistency rules in a design model. Such consistency constraints are specified using the Object Constraint Language (OCL) and the Unified Modelling Language (UML) metamodel, which form the key inputs to our change propagation framework. The underlying change propagation mechanism of our framework is based on the well-known Belief-Desire-Intention (BDI) agent architecture. Our approach represents change options for repairing inconsistencies using event-triggered plans, as is done in BDI agent platforms. This naturally reflects the cascading nature of change propagation, where each change (primary or secondary) can require further changes to be made. We also propose a new method for generating repair plans from OCL consistency constraints. Furthermore, a given inconsistency will typically have a number of repair plans that could be used to restore consistency, and we propose a mechanism for semi-automatically selecting between alternative repair plans. This mechanism, which is based on a notion of cost, takes into account cascades (where fixing the violation of a constraint breaks another constraint), and synergies between constraints (where fixing the violation of a constraint also fixes another violated constraint). Finally, we report on an evaluation of the approach, covering both effectiveness and efficiency.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Computer Science and Information Technology
Keyword(s) Software maintenance
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