Best paper award for Ulyana Tikhonova

From September 17 to September 22, the International Conference on Model Driven Engineering Languages and Systems (MODELS) 2017 took place. The paper “Reusable specification templates for defining dynamic semantics of DSLs”, written by Ulyana Tikhonova of the Software Engineering & Technology (SET) group, won the 2017 Best Paper Award.
In the context of model-driven engineering, the dynamic (execution) semantics of domain-specific languages (DSLs) is usually not specified explicitly and stays (hard)coded in model transformations and code generation. This poses challenges such as learning, debugging, understanding, maintaining, and updating a DSL. Facing the lack of supporting tools for specifying the dynamic semantics of DSLs (or programming languages in general), we propose to specify the architecture and the detailed design of the software that implements the DSL, rather than requirements for the behaviour expected from DSL programs. To compose such a specification, we use specification templates that capture software design solutions typical for the (application) domain of the DSL. As a result, on the one hand, our approach allows for an explicit and clear definition of the dynamic semantics of a DSL, supports separation of concerns and reuse of typical design solutions. On the other hand, we do not introduce (yet another) specification formalism, but we base our approach on an existing formalism and apply its extensive tool support for verification and validation to the dynamic semantics of a DSL.