Incremental Feature Model Synthesis for Clone-and-Own Software Systems in MATLAB/Simulink

Alexander Schlie, Alexander Knüppel, Christoph Seidl, Ina Schaefer

Research output: Conference Article in Proceeding or Book/Report chapterArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


Families of related MATLAB/Simulink systems commonly emerge ad hoc using clone-and-own practices. Extractively migrating systems towards a software product line (SPL) can be a remedy. A feature model (FM) represents all potential configurations of an SPL, ideally, in non-technical domain terms. However, yielding a sensible FM from automated synthesis remains a major challenge due to domain knowledge being a prerequisite for features to be adequate abstractions. In incremental reverse engineering, subsequent generation of FMs may further overwrite changes and design decisions made during previous manual FM refinement.
In this paper, we propose an approach to largely automate the synthesis of a suitable FM from a set of cloned MATLAB/Simulink models as part of reverse engineering an SPL. We fully automate the extraction of an initial, i.e., a technical, FM that closely aligns with realization artifacts and their variability, and further provide operations to manually refine it to incorporate domain knowledge. Most importantly, we provide concepts to capture such operations and to replay them on a structurally different technical FM stemming from a subsequent reverse engineering increment that included further systems of the portfolio. We further provide an implementation and demonstrate the feasibility of our approach using two MATLAB/Simulink data sets from the automotive domain.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 24th ACM International Systems and Software Product Line Conference
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Publication dateOct 2020
Article number7
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • Clone-and-own practices
  • Software product line (SPL)
  • Feature model synthesis
  • Reverse engineering
  • MATLAB/Simulink systems


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