CIF 3

ConstantsΒΆ

Through the use of constants, fixed values can be given a name. Using constants, it is easy to change certain fixed values. If the constant is used consistently throughout the model, the value needs to be changed only in one place. Constants can thus make it easier to keep the model consistent.

Consider the following CIF specification:

const int STEP = 2;
const int TARGET = 100;

automaton movement:
  disc int position = 0;
  event move;

  location:
    initial;
    edge move when position < TARGET do position := position + STEP;
end

In this example, the movement automaton keeps track of the position of an object. The object starts at position 0. It can move until it reaches its target position. The target position is 100. Rather than using position < 100 as guard, the value 100 is stored in a constant named TARGET. The constant can then be used instead the value 100. Similarly, the step size of the object is stored in a constant named STEP.

Constants have a name, which by contention is usually written using upper case letters. Using a constant instead of a fixed value makes it more clear what that value represents. For instance, by using position < TARGET rather than position < 100, the intention of the guard condition is more clear. Using a constant can thus enhance readability.

Another benefit of constants, is that they can be used multiple times in the same model:

const int STEP = 2;
const int TARGET = 100;

automaton movement:
  disc int position = 0;
  event forward, backward;

  location:
    initial;
    edge forward  when position < TARGET do position := position + STEP;
    edge backward when position > 0      do position := position - STEP;
end

In this modified example it is possible for the object to perform forward as well as backward movements. The step size is the same for both movements, making it possible to use the STEP constant in the updates of both edges. Since a constant is used, the speed of both movements can be changed by changing the value of the constant. Without using a constant, the speed would have to be changed separately for each edge.

Constants are not limited to integer values. Consider the following example, where a more complex value is used:

enum ProductType = A, B, C;
const dict(ProductType:real) DURATION = {A: 3.5, B: 5.7, C: 0.8};

This example declares a ProductType enumeration, with three different product types: A, B, and C. The DURATION constant indicates for each product type, how long it takes to produce a product of that type. Products of type A can be produced in 3.5 hours, products of type B in 5.7 hours, etc. To get the production duration of products of type C, expression DURATION[C] can be used. For more information, see the lessons on enumerations and dictionaries.