Domain Specific Languages for Modelling Global Systems - inofficial work page

A workpackage in the Coordination Action Global Systems Dynamics and Policy 2010-2013.

WP leader: Patrik Jansson (Chalmers).

The official work-package page is part of the official GSDP site.

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Abstract (from the 2010 application)

One of the most important and difficult tasks of the software engineer is to develop domain-specific high-level concepts that can serve at the same time as a linguistic interface to the customer and as the vocabulary of a specification language. This challenge is particularly urgent, and difficult in view of global systems science, because no consolidated conceptual framework is available in the face of pressing global problems. Work package 5 will bring new, powerful techniques of software specification to the task and engage in an intense dialogue between computer scientists, specialists form other fields, and practitioners. Advanced use of interactive ICT-tools will be developed so as to foster the public understanding of science as well as the scientific understanding of public debates.


Without computer models, it would be impossible to perceive and analyse most global systems and related policy options. So far, computer models of global systems are based on concepts that miss key features of these systems. Examples are the complex relations between nation states and global markets, as well as the choice points that are essential to address the current crisis of globalisation.

Therefore, there is a need to develop specific programming concepts and tools in the area of GSDP. They must fit both the subject matter of global systems and the communication needs of decision-makers in this area.

This work package will play a central role in the development of the ICT activities of GSDP, in particular, by initiating a process of trans-disciplinary interaction for the deliberate construction of domain-specific languages (DSLs) for modelling global systems, aiming to significantly shorten the distance to high-quality implementation of new concepts, and to advance the emerging mathematics of social entities. In particular it will identify the elements for a Research Program about DSLs for global social-ecological systems (SES) modelling – including interactive user interfaces. It will use both formal methods and other communication oriented methods in close cooperation with modellers within GSDP in the relevant areas.

A close cooperation of scientists with solid background in DSL, together with scientists working on knowledge transfer, change of behaviour and the involvement of stakeholders is envisaged.

Description of work and role of partners

Task 1.

Develop a series of activities, including a workshop on “DSLs for Global Systems Science” to outline the state of the art in DSLs in mathematical modelling and scientific programming, in close interaction with other GSDP work packages. One of the first tasks will be to explain the need for specific programming languages in the area of GSD which can be the basis for further activities in this WP. Specify a number of simple programs used in multi-agent models, demonstrating the usefulness of specifications for communicating about these programs. Look at the shortcomings of current techniques, and on identifying pivotal concepts, such as that of SES, whose implementation is vital in global system modelling.

Task 2.

Develop a series of activities, such as possible workshops on “DSL for narratives” to demonstrate recent advances in the modelling and use of complex, heterogeneous systems, with special attention paid to choice points, histories and the limits of predictability. The goals being: a) to explore obstacles in the use of socio-ecological systems in modelling global systems, b) to identify ways in which high-level domain-specific languages could alleviate these obstacles, and c) to assess how these languages assist communicating the structure and results of global systems models to decision-makers.

Task 3.

Develop a series of activities, including workshops on “DSLs for Sustainability” focused on the potential for DSLs in various areas of sustainability science, such as global coordination problems on financial markets and with regard to environmental risks like climate change. These activities will identify main challenges to such languages from previous workshops and interactions with members of the other work packages, as well as develop strategies for fostering the interactions between computer scientists, mathematicians and sustainability scientists for the systematic development, implementation and improvement of DSLs.


  • KST: 3725 (Software Technology Division, CSE department, Chalmers)
  • PNr: 3720359 (GSDP project)