A Formal Basis for Architectural Connection

Authors: Robert J. Allen and David Garlan

This is a revised version of the paper with the same title that appeared in ACM Transactions on Software Engineering and Methodology, July 1997.

Last updated June 1998

BIBTEX Citation


As software systems become more complex the overall system structure -- or software architecture -- becomes a central design problem. An important step towards an engineering discipline of software is a formal basis for describing and analyzing these designs. In this paper we present a formal approach to one aspect of architectural design: the interactions between components. The key idea is to define architectural connectors as explicit semantic entities. These are specified as a collection of protocols that characterize each of the participant roles in an interaction and how these roles interact. We illustrate how this scheme can be used to define a variety of common architectural connectors. We further provide a formal semantics and show how this leads to a system in which architectural compatibility can be checked in a way analogous to type checking in programming languages.

Keywords: software architecture, formal models, model checking, module interconnection, software analysis.

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Last modified: 8/29/2006. For comments and problems, contact able-help@cs.cmu.edu.