CIF 3

State history

The CIF 3 simulator can be used to explore the state space of a CIF model. It is possible to see step by step, what is possible, and choose some transitions. Sometimes, after exploring a bit, you may want to go back a bit, to explore some alternative behavior. Obviously, you can terminate the simulation, and start a new one. There are several downsides to this. First, you have to start from the initial state again, while you may want to only go back a few states, and continue from there. Second, restarting the simulator may take some time, especially for large models. Third, if you use several visualizations, you may have to layout them again, to be able to see all of them.

To make it easier to explore alternatives, the simulator supports resetting the simulation to the initial state, as well as undoing a certain number of transitions. This page explains that functionality in more detail.

Enabling history

The History option (Input category) can be used to enable or disable history. By default history is enabled. Using the option, it can be disabled. Disabling history disables both the reset and the undo functionality, which ensures no time or memory is consumed in keeping track of earlier states.

If history is enabled, it only has an effect if an interactive input mode is used. Other (automatic) input modes will never perform a reset or undo. That is, the simulator will not keep track of any history states, unless an interactive (either fully interactive or semi-automatic) input mode is used, and history is enabled via the History option.

State stack

In order for the simulator to be able to go back to earlier states, it will need to remember those states. To that end, the simulator can store states that it has encountered in a state stack. The initial state is remembered separately. So, initially, the following is remembered:

../../../_images/history_0.png

Here, state 0 is the initial state. After two transitions are taken, the following is remembered:

../../../_images/history_012.png

Here, two more states, numbered 1 and 2 are remembered. After one more transitions is taken, the following is remembered:

../../../_images/history_0123.png

Here, one more state, numbered 3, is remembered. In each case, the last shown state is the current state. If we undo two transitions, the following is remembered:

../../../_images/history_01.png

As two transitions are undone, their resulting states (the last two states) are forgotten. If we take one more transition after the undo, we get the following:

../../../_images/history_012.png

This state 2 may be the same one as before, or it may be a new one, if a different simulation choice was made. If we reset the simulation, we forget all but the initial state, and end with up:

../../../_images/history_0.png

Stack size

For long simulations, a lot of states will need to be remembered. Each state that needs to be remembered costs some amount of memory. To limit the amount of states that are remembered, the History size option (Input category) can be used.

If set to infinite, there is no limit to the amount of states that can be remembered. If set to a finite (non-negative) number, at most the given number of states are remembered, apart from the initial state. So, if set to zero, only the initial state is remembered. If set to one, one additional state is remembered, etc. The default history size is 100 states. Since if set to zero, only the initial state is remembered, this completely disables undo functionality.

By introducing a maximum number of states that can be remembered, this also introduces a maximum number of transitions that can be undone. Let’s consider a history size of 3. After three transitions, the following is remembered:

../../../_images/history_0123.png

State 3 is the current state. It is possible to undo one, two, or three transitions, going back to states 2, 1, and 0, respectively. Now consider what happens when we take another transition. We already remember three states besides the initial state, and have thus reached the maximum number of states to remember. By remembering the new target state of the fourth transition, we need to let go of state 1, as it is the oldest remembered state, not taking into account the initial state. After this fourth transition, the following is remembered:

../../../_images/history_0234.png

State 4 is the current state. We can undo one transition, to go back to state 3. We can also undo two transitions, to go back to state 2`. However, as we forgot all about state ``1, we can’t undo three transitions. Due to the gap between states 0 and 2, we can’t undo past state 2. As you can see from this example, for a history size of 3, we can undo at most 3 transitions when there is no gap, and at most 2 transitions when there is a gap.

Availability

If history is disabled, reset is not available. If history is enabled, reset is available only if the current state is not the initial state. That is, reset is enabled for every state, except for the initial state.

If history is disabled, or the history size is zero, undo is not available. If history is enabled, and the history size is positive or infinite, undo is available. The number of transitions that can be undone depends on the number of states that is remembered. If n states are currently remembered, excluding the initial state, then n - 1 transitions can be undone, at the least. If there is no gap, and the current state is not the initial state, then n transitions can be undone.

Requests

Reset and undo are only supported by interactive input modes, as explained above.

When the simulator interactively asks the user to choose between some possible transitions, it may also provide the possibility to reset the simulation to the initial state, or to undo some transitions. The details on how the different choices are presented, and how the choice can be made, are explained in the documentation for each of the interactive input modes.

If no transitions are possible, for instance due to deadlock or reaching the end-user provided simulation end time, the simulator may interactively ask the user to choose between termination of the simulation, resetting the simulation to the initial state, or undoing some transitions. This choice is only presented if either reset or undo is enabled, as otherwise there is no choice to make. The details on how the different choices are presented, and how the choice can be made, are explained in the documentation for each of the interactive input modes.

Semi-automatic mode

By using semi-automatic mode, a purely interactive input mode, can be made semi-automatic. This can lead to unexpected results, in combination with reset and undo.

Consider a situation where four transitions have been taken. The first transition was manually chosen, as was the third. The second and fourth transition were automatically chosen. The user is asked to interactively choose the fifth transition. Consider what happens if the user chooses to undo three transitions. The simulator goes back to the state reached after the first transition. The possible transitions are the same as the first time they were calculated. An automatic choice was made for the second transition, so one will also be made the second time around. So, after the second transition is once again automatically chosen, the user is interactively asked to choose the third transition. So, instead of undoing three transitions and getting a choice for the second transition, three transitions are undone, a second transition is automatically chosen, and the user is asked to choose for the third transition.

Similarly, undoing the fourth transition, will result in a fourth transition being automatically chosen again. If the same choice is made as before, undoing the fourth transition has no effect.

Resetting the simulation to the initial state, will not lead to the user being able to choose the transition to take from the initial state, if the first transition is automatically chosen.