Compositional message sequence charts

Elsa L. Gunter, Anca Muscholl, Doron Peled

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


A message sequence chart (MSC) is a standard notation for describing the interaction between communicating objects. It is popular among the designers of communication protocols. MSCs enjoy both a visual and a textual representation. High-level MSCs (HMSCs) allow specifying infinite scenarios and different choices. Specifically, an HMSC consists of a graph, where each node is a finite MSC with matched send and receive events, and vice versa. In this paper we demonstrate a weakness of HMSCs, which disallows one to model certain interactions. We will show, by means of an example, that some simple finite state communication protocol cannot be represented using HMSCs. We then propose an extension to the MSC standard which allows HMSC nodes to include unmatched messages. The corresponding graph notation will be called HCMSC, which stands for high-level Compositional message sequence charts. With the extended framework, we provide an algorithm for automatically constructing an MSC representation for finite state asynchronous message passing protocols.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-89
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal on Software Tools for Technology Transfer
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Finite-state communication protocols
  • Message sequence charts
  • Partial-order methods


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