VINST Validation and Integration of Specifications


During 1997-98 Dr. Hercules Dalianis , ph +46 8 70-568 13 59, was invited to, Information Sciences Institute/ University of Southern California, by Dr. Eduard Hovy ,  to do research and to develop a prototype to integrate STEP/EXPRESS schemata for the car manufacturing industry.
VINST means Validation and Integration of Specifications. The VINST tool compares two concepts in two formal models and decides how close they are semantically  The tool can then consequently automatically integrate the two models.
The VINST tool can also translate the formal model into Natural Language (English) so that the user can validate the model.The tool was presented at The European Conference on Integration in Manufacturing, IiM-98, Gothenburg October 6-8, 1998.

Formal models and language

The VINST method can be used within a large set of areas where there is a need to integrate/validate two models. Except of the STEP/EXPRESS domain, we can also do it for languages in the system development area as for example UML, SDL, database models, business models, etc.


The way the VINST tool is implemented is that the tool searches through all concepts in both models and compares them with regard to of a set of parameters as concept names, attributes, sub- and super classes of the text definition of each concept. Each measurement is weighted and is then inserted in a formula to compute the semantic proximity of each concept-pair. Each value is then sorted in decreasing order. The Pilot example studied was the integration of the Electrotechnical application protocol STEP AP212 and the Automotive design application protocol STEP AP214, containing 352 and 501 concepts respectively. The VINST method gave 25 completely overlapping concepts and 20 partly overlapping concepts, see article for details. Some of the semantically close concepts might not look the same at a first glance, as for example, project and activity, but can have exactly the same meaning.

Figure 1. Overview of the VINST tool


Automotive manufacturing industry, telecom, infocom, finance, etc.

An example: Merging two companies.

When two large companies in the utility domain are to be merged, a large amount of concepts in the businesses are to be redefined, replaced or kept. These concepts are available in a large set of sub domain in the utility domain, for example in power distribution/network, power exchange, billing, process technique, personnel, etc, etc,
In some of these domains in the merged companies there can be descriptions in machine readable form as database schemata, network descriptions, billing systems etc. In these cases it is very easy to let the VINST tool read these concepts and give the first assessment of which of the concepts of two companies are semantically close. The results from the VINST tool is a support for the persons who are assigned to investigate all schemata/concepts of the merging companies.


The two companies has for example each 100 concepts within one domain, this means that we have 100 x 100 = 10.000 possible combinations of concepts which one or many persons have two investigate. If he/she has to investigate each concept pair for two minutes then it would take 333 hours = 2 months to process all. With the VINST tool the whole work would take at most two days. Of course it would be necessary to adapt the tool to the specific domain but this work would not take more then two weeks. If one counts all the domains within these two merging companies the gain in time and money would be enormous.

An other example: Integration of two formal specifications of telephone services.

A telecom company sells a telephone system, with a set of predefined services to a telecom operator. The customer (the telecom operator) wants to customize a set of services. These new services are interacting in a faulty way with the predefined ones. The VINST tool performs an analysis of the specifications and gives a report on which concepts in the specifications are defined in a similar way.


The integration part of the VINST tool is implemented in Perl which is a string handling language primarily developed for UNIX. Perl is also available also for Windows and Macintosh OS.
The validation part of the VINST tool is developed in Prolog which is a logic programming language. Prolog is well suited for natural language processing. Prolog is also available on the above mentioned environments.


H. Dalianis. The VINST approach: Validating and Integrating STEP AP Schemata Using a Semi Automatic Tool. In N. Mårtensson et al (Eds). Changing the Ways we Work - Shaping the ICT solutions for the Next Century, IOS-Press, 1998, pp. 211-220, Proceedings of the Conference on Integration in Manufacturing, IiM-98, in Gothenburg, Sweden, October 6-8, 1998,Abstract

H. Dalianis & E. Hovy. Integrating STEP Schemata using Automatic Methods. In the Proceedings of the ECAI-98 workshop on Applications of ontologies and problem-solving methods, Brighton, England, pp. 54-66, August 24-25, 1998,Abstract

H. Dalianis, P. Johannesson & A. Hedman. Validation of STEP/EXPRESS Specifications by Automatic Natural Language Generation. In the Proceedings of RANLP'97: Recent Advances in Natural Language Processing, pp. 264 - 269, Tzigov Chark, Bulgaria, September 11-13, 1997, Abstract