SIGNAL (programming language)
||This article uses abbreviations that may be confusing or ambiguous. (November 2011)|
The SIGNAL formal model provides the capability to describe systems with several clocks  (polychronous systems) as relational specifications. Relations are useful as partial specifications and as specifications of non-deterministic devices (for instance a non-deterministic bus) or external processes (for instance an unsafe car driver).
Using SIGNAL allows to specify an application, to design an architecture, to refine detailed components down to RTOS[clarification needed] or hardware description. The SIGNAL model supports a design methodology which goes from specification to implementation, from abstraction to concretization, from synchrony to asynchrony.
A brief history
The SIGNAL language was first designed for signal processing applications in the beginning of the 1980s. It has been proposed to answer the demand of new domain-speciﬁc language for the design of signal processing applications, adopting a dataflow and block-diagram style with array and sliding window operators. P. Le Guernic, A. Benveniste, and T. Gautier have been in charge of the language definition. The first paper on SIGNAL was published in 1982, while the first complete description of SIGNAL appeared in the PhD thesis of T. Gautier. The symbolic representation of SIGNAL via z/3z (over [-1,0,1]) has been introduced in 1986. A full compiler of SIGNAL based on the clock calculus on hierarchy of Boolean clocks, was described by L. Besnard in his PhD thesis in 1992. The clock calculus has been improved later by T. Amagbegnon with the proposition of arborescent canonical forms.
During the 1990s, the application domain of the SIGNAL language has been extended into general embedded and real-time systems. The relation-oriented specification style enabled the increasing construction of the systems, and also led to the design considering multi-clocked systems, compared to the original single-clock-based implementation of Esterel and Lustre. Moreover, the design and implementation of distributed embedded systems were also taken into account in SIGNAL. The corresponding research includes the optimization methods proposed by B. Chéron, the clustering models defined by B. Le Goff, the abstraction and separate compilation formalized by O. Maffeïs, and the implementation of distributed programs developed by P. Aubry.
The Polychrony Toolsets
The Polychrony toolset is an Open Source development environment for critical/embedded systems based on SIGNAL, a real-time polychronous data-flow language. It provides a unified model-driven environment to perform design exploration by using top-down and bottom-up design methodologies formally supported by design model transformations from specification to implementation and from synchrony to asynchrony. It can be included in heterogeneous design systems with various input formalisms and output languages.
Polychrony is a set of tools composed of:
- A SIGNAL batch compiler
- A Graphical User Interface (editor + interactive access to compiling functionalities)
- The Sigali tool, an associated formal system for formal verification and controller synthesis. Sigali is developed together with the INRIA Vertecs project.
The SME environment
The SME (SIGNAL Meta under Eclipse) environment is a front-end of Polychrony in the Eclipse environment based on Model-Driven Engineering (MDE) technologies. It consists of a set of Eclipse plug-ins which rely on the Eclipse Modeling Framework (EMF). The environment is built around SME, a metamodel  of the SIGNAL language extended with mode automata  concepts.
The SME environment is composed of several plug-ins which correspond to:
- A reflexive editor: a tree view allowing to manipulate models conform to the SME metamodel.
- A graphical modeler based on the TopCased modeling facilities (cf. previous picture).
- A reflexive editor and an Eclipse view to create compilation scenarios.
- A direct connection to the Polychrony services (compilation, formal verification, etc.).
- A documentation and model examples.
- Lustre (programming language)
- Synchronous programming language
- Dataflow programming
- Programming Language
- Globally asynchronous locally synchronous
- Formal verification
- Model checking
- Formal semantics of programming languages
- System design
- Asynchrony (computer programming)
Notes and references
- P. Le Guernic, T. Gautier, M. Le Borgne, and C. Le Maire. Programming Real-Time Applications with SIGNAL. Proceedings of the IEEE, 79(9): 1321-1336, September 1991.
- P. Le Guernic, J.-P. Talpin, and J.-C. Le Lann. Polychrony for system design. Journal for Circuits, Systems and Computers, Special Issue on Application Specific Hardware Design, World Scientific, April 2003 (also available as INRIA Research Report 4715, 2003).
- A. Gamatié and T. Gautier. The SIGNAL Synchronous Multiclock Approach to the Design of Distributed Embedded Systems. IEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems, 21(5): 641-657, May 2010.
- A. Gamatié. Designing Embedded Systems with the SIGNAL Programming Language: Synchronous, Reactive Specification. ISBN 978-1-4419-0940-4. Book edited by Springer - New York, 260 pages, 2010.
- A. Benveniste, P. Bournai, T. Gautier, M. Le Borgne, P. Le Guernic, and H. Marchand. The Signal declarative synchronous language: controller synthesis & systems/architecture design. 40th IEEE Conference on Decision and Control, 2001.
- H. Marchand, P. Bournai, M. Le Borgne, P. Le Guernic, Synthesis of Discrete-Event Controllers based on the Signal Environment, Discrete Event Dynamic System: Theory and Applications, 10(4):325-346, October 2000.
- C. Brunette, J.-P. Talpin, A. Gamatié, and T. Gautier. A Metamodel for the Design of Polychronous Systems. Journal of Logic and Algebraic Programming, 78(4): 233-259, Elsevier, April 2009.
- J.-P. Talpin, C. Brunette, T. Gautier, and A. Gamatié. Polychronous mode automata. Proceedings of the 6th ACM & IEEE International conference on Embedded software (EMSOFT '06), ACM Press, October 2006, 83-92.