Language Design

Lustre, Lustre evolutions, Lutin, Argos, Mode-Automata, Larissa

Synchronous languages are high level languages dedicated to the programming of reactive systems. The synchrone group invented the synchronous language LUSTRE, which is the core language of the industrial environment SCADE. SCADE is developed by Esterel-Technologies, and used, in particular by Airbus, for the on-board software of Airbus A340/600 and A380. See the history of SCADE on the Esterel technologies website.

The synchrone group also designed the LUTIN language, which can be seen as a stochastic extension of LUSTRE. The main objective of LUTIN programs is to simulate reactive systems environment for testing purposes (Lurette). The work on LUTIN and LURETTE led the creation of the Argosim start-up company.

In the recent years, we have been working on several other synchronous languages:
— Argos: a pure synchronous automaton-based language, inspired from the Statecharts constructs;
— Mode-automata: a way of combining Argos automata with Lustre equations, in order to describe running-modes of embedded reactive systems;
— Larissa: a extension of Argos with aspect-oriented features;
— Lutin : a language for the description and execution of non-deterministic reactive systems.

Moreover, we still work on Lustre itself. Recent work has been conducted in the context of the ALIDECS project. Ongoing work is done in the context of the Synchronics project.

People Involved and Related Projects


  • Pascal Raymond
  • Paul Caspi
  • Erwan Jahier
  • Karine Altisen
  • Nicolas Halbwachs
  • Florence Maraninchi

— Synchronics

Lustre, the Core Language

Lustre is a synchronous declarative language for programming reactive systems. the declarative style of the language means the following: a Lustre program is an unordered set of equations linking the variables of the program; these equations always hold during the execution of the program.

This approach was inspired from formalisms familiar to control engineers, like systems of differential equations or synchronous operator networks (block diagrams). A program variable in Lustre is considered to be a function of multi-form time: it has an associated clock which defines the sequence of instants when the variable takes its values. In that sense, Lustre belongs to the family of synchronous languages (like Esterel and Signal).

Lustre is the kernel language of the SCADE (formerly SAO+/SAGA) industrial environment developed by Esterel-Technologies.

A tutorial of Lustre is available here.

A small example of a Lustre program is the following:

node integr (a: int) returns (i: int) ;
   i = 0 -> pre(i) + a ;

One of its executions is described by the following timing-diagram:

To obtain the Lustre toolbox see here.

Lustre Arrays

Arrays were introduced in the language for the description of hardware systems [1]. Lustre-V4 includes operators like slice extraction, concatenation and a static recursion mechanism, all well adapted to the description of hardware systems.

This set of operations is however not well-suited for the description of software systems: their compilation leads to imperative code with independent variables corresponding to array elements. In the V6 version of Lustre, we introduced array iterators, inspired from classical functional operators like map and fold, that can always be compiled into imperative code with arrays and loops [2].

Lutin, Lucky: a family of languages and tools for the execution of non-deterministic reactive behaviors

The main challenge to automate a testing or a simulation process is to be able to automate the generation of realistic input sequences to feed the program. In other words, we need an executable model of the program environment in which inputs are the program outputs, and outputs are the program inputs.

In the first Lurette prototype [3] — an automated testing tool from reactive programs designed at Verimag —, the System Under Test (SUT) environment behavior was described by Lustre observers specifying what realistic SUT inputs should be. In other words, the environment was modeled by a set of (linear) constraints over Boolean and numeric variables. The work of Lurette was to solve those constraints, and to draw a value among the solutions to produce one SUT input vector. But, from the point of view of language expressivity, Lustre observers happen to be too restrictive, in particular to express sequences of d testing scenarios, or to have some control over the probabilistic distribution of the drawn solution. It was precisely to overcome those limitations that the new languages, Lutin and Lucky, were designed.

A Lucky program is an interpreted automaton whose transitions define the reactions of the machine. More precisely, each transition is associated with:

— a set of constraints (a Lustre-like formula) that defines the set of the possible outputs, and
— a weight that defines the relative probability for each transition to be taken, i.e., to be used to produce the output vector for the current step.

Lutin is similar, except that it is based on regular expressions instead of automata. Lutin compiles into Lucky. A training tutorial for Lucky is available here (html).

To obtain the tools see here and here.

Reglo: from regular expressions to Lustre observers

Reglo is a compiler which translates regular expressions into either a set of language equations, or into a Lustre program.

The complete definition can be found here.

To obtain the tool see here.

Argos: a automaton-based synchronous language

Argos has been studied from 1987 to 1994. The complete definition can be found in this article. See also the PhD by Muriel Jourdan. Argos is a synchronous language inspired from the graphical notation of Statecharts. It has been extended by Charles André (Nice university) to give the language SyncCharts. The Safe State Machines (SSM) included in SCADE are very similar to Argos.

Here’s a typical Argos program:

This example describes a modulo-8 counter. The global input is the signal named a, the global output is named hi. The counter is made of three parallel processes (one process per bit) that communicate by internal signals. The main structure is an automaton that starts and stops the three-bit counter. This program may be compiled into a single "flat" automaton, having 8 states, which is exactly the one we would have written by hand (no more states, no more transitions). This demonstrates that the synchronous product of Mealy machines (the semantics of the Argos parallel composition) is a perfect support for a notion of design parallelism, i.e., a notion of parallelism that can be used with no constraints at the design level, while being compiled in a minimal flat automaton. Notice that no other description of such a counter (with a synchronous product of Moore machines, or with asynchronous products) has this interesting property.

Some external references to Argos:


Argos and its aspect-oriented extendion Larissa can be obtained from David Stauch former home page.

Mode-Automata: a new construct for running modes in a dataflow language

Mode-Automata are a new programming construct that helps building systems that exhibit clear "running modes". Technically, they are defined as automata, whose states are labeled by Lustre-style dataflow equations, and which can be composed with Statecharts-like operators (parallel composition, hierarchic composition). The presentation Automata in the Family of Synchronous Languages explains how mode-automata follow from Argos, and Argos+Lustre. See also the Phd of Yann Rémond. (The MATOU logo is due to Yann Rémond).

The complete definition can be found in this article.

Some external references to mode-automata:

A typical mode-automaton and its timing diagram are given below:

Larissa: Aspect-oriented Features for a Synchronous Language

Larissa is an extension of Argos with aspect-oriented features. Information can be found on the former page of David Stauch, but please note that the contact email is no longer valid. Use Karine.Altisen instead.

The complete definition of Larissa can be found in this article.

[1] F. Rocheteau and N. Halbwachs. Pollux, a Lustre-based hardware design environment. Conference on Algorithms and Parallel VLSI Architectures II. June 1991

[2] Lionel Morel. Efficient Compilation of Array Iterators for Lustre. First Workshop on Synchronous Languages, Applications, and Programming, SLAP02, Grenoble, April 2002

[3] P. Raymond, D. Weber, X. Nicollin, and N. Halbwachs. Automatic Testing of Reactive Systems. 19th IEEE Real-Time Systems Symposium. Madrid, Spain, December 1998.

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