On the Understandability of Temporal Properties Formalized in Linear Temporal Logic, Property Specification Patterns and Event Processing Language

On the Understandability of Temporal Properties Formalized in Linear Temporal Logic, Property Specification Patterns and Event Processing Language

Abstract

Temporal properties are important in a wide variety of domains for different purposes. For example, they can be used to avoid architectural drift in software engineering or to support the regulatory compliance of business processes. In this work, we study the understandability of three major temporal property representations: (1) Linear Temporal Logic (LTL) is a formal and well-established logic that offers temporal operators to describe temporal properties; (2) Property Specification Patterns (PSP) are a collection of recurring temporal properties that abstract underlying formal and technical representations; (3) Event Processing Language (EPL) can be used for runtime monitoring of event streams using Complex Event Processing. We conducted two controlled experiments with 216 participants in total to study the understandability of those approaches using a completely randomized design with one alternative per experimental unit. We hypothesized that PSP, as a highly abstracting pattern language, is easier to understand than LTL and EPL, and that EPL, due to separation of concerns (as one or more queries can be used to explicitly define the truth value change that an observed event pattern causes), is easier to understand than LTL. We found evidence supporting our hypotheses which was statistically significant and reproducible.

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Authors
  • Czepa, Christoph
  • Zdun, Uwe
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Shortfacts
Category
Journal Paper
Divisions
Software Architecture
Journal or Publication Title
IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering (TSE)
ISSN
0098-5589
Date
2019
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