Constraint specification by example in a meta-CASE tool

Qattous, Hazem Kathem (2011) Constraint specification by example in a meta-CASE tool. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Meta-CASE tools offer the ability to specialise and customise diagram-based software modelling editors. Constraints play a major role in these specialisation and customisation tasks. However, constraint definition is complicated. This thesis addresses the problem of constraint specification complexity in meta-CASE tools. Constraint Specification by Example (CSBE), a novel variant of Programming by Example, is proposed as a technique that can simplify and facilitate constraint specification in meta-CASE tools. CSBE involves a user presenting visual examples of diagrams to the tool which engages in a synergistic interaction with the user, based on system inference and additional user input, to arrive at the user’s intended constraint.
A prototype meta-CASE tool has been developed that incorporates CSBE. This prototype was used to perform several empirical studies to investigate the feasibility and potential advantages of CSBE. An empirical study was conducted to evaluate the performance in terms of effectiveness, efficiency and user satisfaction of CSBE compared to a typical form-filling technique. Results showed that users using CSBE correctly specified significantly more constraints and required less time to accomplish the task. Users reported higher satisfaction when using CSBE. A second empirical online study has been conducted with the aim of discovering the preference of participants for positive or negative natural language polarity when expressing constraints. Results showed that subjects preferred positive constraint expression over negative expression. A third empirical study aimed to discover the effect of example polarity (negative vs. positive) on the performance of CSBE. A multi-polarity tool offering both positive and negative examples scored significantly higher correctness in a significantly shorter time to accomplish the task with a significantly higher user satisfaction compared to a tool offering only one example polarity. A fourth empirical study examined user-based addition of new example types and inference rules into the CSBE technique. Results demonstrated that users are able to add example types and that performance is improved when they do so.
Overall, CSBE has been shown to be feasible and to offer potential advantages compared to other commonly-used constraint specification techniques.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Constraint specification by example, Programming by example, Constraint specification, Meta-CASE tools, Diagram editors, CASE tools.
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA76 Computer software
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Computing Science
Supervisor's Name: Gray, Mr. Philip
Date of Award: 2011
Depositing User: Dr Hazem Qattous
Unique ID: glathesis:2011-2807
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2011
Last Modified: 15 Oct 2014 09:30

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