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Removal of redundant elements within UML activity diagrams

Beckmann, Martin; Michalke, Vanessa N.; Vogelsang, Andreas; Schlutter, Aaron

As the complexity of systems continues to rise, the use of model-driven development approaches becomes more widely applied. Still, many created models are mainly used for documentation. As such, they are not designed to be used in following stages of development, but merely as a means of improved overview and communication. In an effort to use existing UML2 activity diagrams of an industry partner (Daimler AG) as a source for automatic generation of software artifacts, we discovered, that the diagrams often contain multiple instances of the same element. These redundant instances might improve the readability of a diagram. However, they complicate further approaches such as automated model analysis or traceability to other artifacts because mostly redundant instances must be handled as one distinctive element. In this paper, we present an approach to automatically remove redundant ExecutableNodes within activity diagrams as they are used by our industry partner. The removal is implemented by merging the redundant instances to a single element and adding additional elements to maintain the original behavior of the activity. We use reachability graphs to argue that our approach preserves the behavior of the activity. Additionally, we applied the approach to a real system described by 36 activity diagrams. As a result 25 redundant instances were removed from 15 affected diagrams.
Published in: 2017 ACM/IEEE 20th International Conference on Model Driven Engineering Languages and Systems (MODELS), 10.1109/MODELS.2017.7, IEEE