Feature Model Mining

TitleFeature Model Mining
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsShe, S.
AdvisorCzarnecki, K.
Academic DepartmentSchool of Computer Science
Number of Pages70
Date Published08/2008
UniversityUniversity of Waterloo

Software systems have grown larger and more complex in recent years. Generative software development strives to automate software development from a systems family by generating implementations using domain-specific languages. In current practice, specifying domain-specific languages is a manual task requiring expert analysis of multiple information sources. Furthermore, the concepts and relations represented in a language are grown through its usage. Keeping the language consistent with its usage is a time-consuming process requiring manual comparison between the language instances and its language specification. Feature model mining addresses these issues by synthesizing a representative model bottom-up from a sample set of instances called configurations.

This thesis presents a mining algorithm that reverse-engineers a probabilistic feature model from a set of individual configurations. A configuration consists of a list of features that are defined as system properties that a stakeholder is interested in. Probabilistic expressions are retrieved from the sample configurations through the use of conjunctive and disjunctive association rule mining. These expressions are used to construct a probabilistic feature model.

The mined feature model consists of a hierarchy of features, a set of additional hard constraints and soft constraints. The hierarchy describes the dependencies and alternative relations exhibited among the features. The additional hard constraints are a set of propositional formulas which must be satisfied in a legal configuration. Soft constraints describe likely defaults or common patterns.

Systems families are often realized using object-oriented frameworks that provide reusable designs for constructing a family of applications. The mining algorithm is evaluated on a set of applications to retrieve a metamodel of the Java Applet framework. The feature model is then applied to the development of framework-specific modeling languages (FSMLs). FSMLs are domain-specific languages that model the framework-provided concepts and their rules for development.

The work presented in this thesis provides the foundation for further research in feature model mining. The strengths and weaknesses of the algorithm are analyzed and the thesis concludes with a discussion of possible extensions.