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Tiziana Margaria

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Semantic Types Aid Behavioral Models to become Digital Twins spanning Software and Processes

In the Confirm research centre on Smart Manufacturing as well as in Industry 4.0 in general, a Digital Thread connects the data and processes for smarter products, smarter production, and smarter integrated ecosystems. While the tangible goods (products and production lines) are understood as needing a Digital Twin as an executable model, i.e. an in-silico entity on which to virtually explore design, production, quality, and lifetime maintenance, the immaterial goods like software are not yet treated on par.

We argue that the increasingly ambitious needs of the people, the economical sectors, and the large-scale trends can only be met if the IT professions embrace and adopt a new way of producing and consuming IT. The new way to deal with software will be more mature in the sense of automation of production and management, based on more formal descriptions, more models, more reasoning and analysis before expensive implementations are incurred. Behavioural models are accordingly the natural Digital Twins of the software.

For this new paradigm to enter mainstream, models need to be coupled with automatic transformations, generations, and analyses that take advantage of the formalized knowledge about the immaterial and material entities. This formalized knowledge includes Domain Specific Languages that use Semantic Types at their core.

We provide a few examples of how the new thinking can disrupt the status quo but empower a better understanding, a more efficient organization, and a more automatic management of the many cross-dimensional issues that future connected software and systems will depend upon.