Author: Uri Shani, Shmuela Jacobs, Niva Wengrowicz, Dov Dori
CSER’16 conference (IBM) March 22-24, 2016 Huntsville, AL United States

We introduce ontologies (as in the Semantic Web ontology language OWL) to serve as formal description of the modelling languages of model-based systems engineering (MBSE) tools. In these tools, systems are designed via abstractions, each tool with its own conceptual modelling languages having different syntaxes and different semantics. This creates barriers in sharing these mathematical models among the tools. Our journey starts with the web, where large amounts of information from any sources on the Web can be linked and combined in many ways. The Semantic Web added meaning through OWL ontologies to the information in web pages so machines could better process information to enhance users’ experience.  The field of MBSE offers a great many different tools to the engineer, each representing the system under design or a view of that system albeit mathematically, but differently so that sharing a model from one tool with another is impossible, or darn difficult and error prone.

This problem is often classified as “tools interoperability”, but it is primarily a language interoperability problem. The Open Services for Lifecycle Collaboration (OSLC) specifications and initiative brought the Semantic Web technologies into MBSE by introducing Resource Description Framework (RDF) for common model representation, RESTful protocols, as a common communication and data exchange method, and enabling the linking of model elements in the different tools that are used for product lifecycle management (PLM).. The semantic mediation container (SMC) is a platform developed by IBM Research as part of EU projects (SPRINT, DANSE and now PSYMBIOSYS) to support the mediation of models represented in RDF and exchanged over the Internet using RESTful API. SMC extends the benefits of the OSLC approach by adding semantics using the Web Ontology Language (OWL) specifications to define language ontologies. Each tool exchange models with the SMC platform, where models are constructed according to specific ontologies (in OWL) per each of the tools. Models can then be mediated to comply with different ontologies.

The rules governing the mediation are also coded as OWL ontologies that bridge two different ontologies and are interpreted by a mediator. Bridging is a form of transformation, or an inference over the statements of the 3 involved ontologies, and those of the input RDF model, all driven by a mediation engine we term mediator. In this paper we introduce the first stages of mediation as applied to two different modeling tools; Rhapsody that implements the OMG standard SysML specification, and OPCAT – the OPM CASE tool implementing the Object-Model Methodology (OPM) which is an emerging ISO 19450 standard.

Date of publication: 2016