Modeling - Glossary

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This topic contains a dictionary of specific terms used in the Modeling features.

Term Description


A special form of association relationship that specifies a whole-part relationship between the aggregate (the whole) and a component (the part). See also: Association, Composition.


A structural relationship that describes a set of links (connections among objects) or the semantic relationship between two or more classifiers that involves the connections among their instances. See also: Aggregation, Composition.

Association class

A modeling element that has both association and class properties. An association class can be treated as an association that also has class properties, or as a class that also has association properties.

Association end

The endpoint of an association, which connects that association to a classifier.


A classifier's named property that describes a range of values that instances of the property may hold.


The number of elements in a set. See also: multiplicity.


A subclass.


A description of a set of objects that share the same attributes, operations, relationships, and semantics.


In general, those modeling elements that can have instances are called classifiers. Classifiers have structural features (attributes) and behavioral features (operations). (Interfaces may not have attributes.) In the Modeling, classifiers are the basic nodes of diagrams: classes, interfaces, structures, datatypes, signals, components, nodes, use cases, and subsystems. Some of them can include other classifiers (or inner classifiers).


Some model elements (classes, interfaces) are represented by rectangles with several compartments inside. You can change the appearance of the compartments (see Diagram Appearance options).


A form of aggregation with strong ownership and coincident lifetime of the parts by the whole. Composition parts with nonfixed multiplicity may be created after the composite itself, but, once created, they live and die with it. Such parts can also be explicitly removed before the death of the composite. See also Association, Composition.


Constraints allow you to add new rules or modify existing ones. A constraint is a condition or restriction expressed as a text string in a natural language, in some programming language, or in the UML's Object Constraint Language (OCL). Constraints may be attached to more than one element.


  1. An object that can contain other objects and that provides operations to access its contents.
  2. A component that exists to contain other components.


A type whose values have no identity. Data types include primitive built-in types (such as numbers and strings), as well as enumeration types.


A relationship between two elements in which a change to one element (the independent element) may affect the other element (the dependent element).
A dependency is a relationship that signifies that one model element requires other model element for its specification or implementation. This means that the complete semantics of the depending element(s) is either semantically or structurally dependent on the definition of the supplier element(s).

Design project

One of two basic modeling project types: design and implementation. A design project is language-neutral. It does not contain source code.


A graphical presentation of a collection of model elements, most often rendered as a connected graph of vertices (model elements - things) and arcs (relationships between model elements). The set of available diagrams for a project depends on the project type.


An atomic component (thing) of a model. See Model element.


A list of named values used as the range of a particular attribute type.

Forward engineering

The process of transforming a UML model into the source code through a mapping to the specific programming language used in an implementation project.


A generalization relationship defines objects of the specialized element (the child) that are substitutable for objects of the generalized element (the parent). See Implementation.


An implementation relationship is a special kind of generalization that connects an interface with classes that implement it.

Implementation project

One of two basic modeling project types: design and implementation. An implementation project is language-specific. It includes diagrams and source code.


An entity that has a unique identity, a set of operations that can be applied to it, and a state that stores the effects of the operations. See Object.

Instance specification

Only UML 2.0. An instance specification specifies the existence of an entity that represents an instance of a model element in a modeled system and completely or partially describes the entity.


A collection of operations that are used to specify a functionality of a class or a component.

Invocation specification

Invocation specification is an area within an execution specification on a UML 2.0 Sequence Diagram. This element is not defined in the UML 2.0 specification. It is a useful tool for modeling synchronous invocations with the reply messages. A message in UML 2.0 Sequence Diagrams has its origin in an invocation specification.

Model element

Model element is any component of your model that you can put on a diagram. Model elements include nodes and links between them. See Element.

Multiple inheritance

A variation of generalization in which a child may have more than one parent.


A specification of the range of allowable cardinalities that a set may assume. Multiplicity specifications may be given for association ends, parts within composites, repetitions, and other purposes. A multiplicity is a subset of the nonnegative integers. See also: Cardinality.

N-ary association

An association among three or more classes. Each instance of the association is an n-tuple of values from the respective classes.


A string used to identify a model element (a thing, relationship, or diagram).


A graphic symbol for placing comments or constraints attached to an element or diagram.


An instance of a class. An object has state and behavior.


A package is used to group elements, and provides a namespace for the grouped elements.

Packageable element

A packageable element is a named element that may be owned directly by a package.


A port is a property of a classifier that specifies an interaction point between that classifier and its environment or between the classifier and its internal parts. Ports are connected to properties of the classifier by connectors through which requests can be made to invoke the behavioral features of a classifier.


A named parameter (characteristic) of an element.


Realization is the UML term for an interface implementation.


A connection between elements.

Reverse engineering

The process of transforming from the language-specific source code into a model through a parsing of source code and generating the tree of the modeling project and UML diagrams of the model.


A shortcut is a representation of an existing node element placed on the same or a different diagram.


A slot is owned by an instance specification. It represents that an entity modeled by the instance specification has a structural feature with the specified value or values.


An extension of the UML vocabulary. Stereotypes allow to create new kinds of model elements that are derived from elements existing in the UML, but adapted to your model.

View filter

A view filter is the mechanism to show or hide a specific kind of model element. When dealing with large projects, the amount of information shown on a diagram can become overwhelming. You can selectively show or hide information. See Using view filters.

See Also