"Mini-Dagstuhl" Seminar: Foundational Aspects of Conceptual Modelling
After the inaugural workshop at the CBI 2015 in Lisbon was perceived as a very inspiring experience by all participants, we decided to continue the discussion on the foundations of our field during a second workshop at CBI 2016 in Paris. By its very nature conceptual modelling is aimed at the (re-) construction of concepts. The focus on concepts is motivated by various aspects. On the one hand, it accounts for the fact that information systems are linguistic artefacts: They are created through language and the only way using them is through language, too. On the other hand, it is aimed at building a linguistic bridge between the domains of discourse where a targeted information system is supposed to be used and the language(s) used to implement the system. For this purpose, it will usually be required to focus on the invariant essence of concepts and to remove ambiguities inherent to natural language. Against this background it is obvious that there is need to clarify the conceptual foundation of the field itself, i.e. to develop concise and purposeful definitions of key terms such as “domain”, “model”, “method”, “modelling language” and clarify relationships between concepts such as the distinction between models and modelling languages. Even if one does not go as far as the authors of the FRISCO report who suspected that "a surprisingly large number of terms in the information systems area have been coined by suppliers of IT products and services, or by pseudo scientists", it seems that foundational terms are often used in a rather pragmatic way that will hardly endure a critical review. Foundational concepts are related to core research objective. Therefore, the seminar will also address questions like:
- What are critical success factors for conceptual models to become drivers of more efficient and more flexible information systems?
- What is required to design models that empower users of software systems?
- How should we draw the borderline between models and modelling languages?
- What are pivotal criteria to assess the quality of modelling languages?
- How can models be used at run-time to enable a new class of enterprise software systems?
- What are challenges of designing DSMLs?
Some may regard the quest for a convincing conceptual foundation as dispensable, since it would be enough to know what we mean. However, if we follow Kant who regarded concepts (besides intuition) as the foundation of any cognition, we should better aim at an elaborate conceptual foundation of our field. It is the purpose of this seminar to contribute to this objective. In order to promote open and enthusiastic discourses, the seminar follows the model of the renowned Dagstuhl seminars. Therefore, participation is by invitation only. During the seminar the participants will focus on selected concepts, and discuss foundational research questions as well as promising approaches to address these challenges.
The seminar is scheduled for one day. At the beginning, each participant gives an overview of the most urgent conceptual/terminological problems of the field that he/she sees (10 min. each). Based on that, the participants will select those topics they regard as most relevant. It is then possible to give spontaneous presentation. In general, however, there is emphasis on discussions. If it is required, the group may split up in smaller workgroups.
- Ulrich Frank, University of Duisburg-Essen
- John Krogstie, Norwegian University of Science and Technology