Specifying and analysing system-level inter-component interfaces

Mats P.E. Heimdahl, Jeffrey M. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In control systems, the interfaces between software and its embedding environment are a major source of costly errors. For example, Lutz reported that 20-35% of the safety-related errors discovered during integration and system testing of two spacecraft were related to the interfaces between the software and the embedding hardware. Also, the software's operating environment is likely to change over time, further complicating the issues related to system-level inter-component communication. In this paper we discuss a formal approach to the specification and analysis of inter-component communication using a revised version of RSML (Requirements State Machine Language). The formalism allows rigorous specification of the physical aspects of the inter-component communication and forces encapsulation of communication-related properties in well-defined and easy-to-read interface specifications. This enables us both to analyse a system design to detect incompatibilities between connected components and to use the interface specifications as safety kernels to enforce safety constraints.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)208-224
Number of pages17
JournalRequirements Engineering
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000


  • Formal methods
  • Inter-component communication
  • RSML
  • Requirements specification
  • Safety kernel
  • State-based specification
  • Static analysis


Dive into the research topics of 'Specifying and analysing system-level inter-component interfaces'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this