SBVR allows the production of business vocabularies and rules; vocabulary plus rules constitute a shared domain model with the same expressive power of standard ontological languages. SBVR allows multilingual development, since it is based on separation between symbols and their meaning. SBVR enables making business rules accessible to software tools, including tools that support the business experts in creating, finding, validating, and managing business rules, and tools that support the information technology experts in converting business rules into implementation rules for automated systems.
SBVR uses OMG's Meta-Object Facility (MOF) to provide interchange capabilities MOF/XMI mapping rules, enable generating MOF-compliant models and define an XML schema. SBVR proposes Structured English as one of possibly many notations that can map to the SBVR Metamodel.
SBVR and Knowledge Discovery Metamodel (KDM) are designed as two parts of a unique OMG Technology Stack for software analytics related to existing software systems. KDM defines an ontology related to software artefacts and thus provides an initial formalization of the information related to a software system. SBVR can be further used to formalize complex compliance rules related to the software.
In June 2003 OMG has issued Business Semantics of Business Rule (BSBR) Request For Proposal, in order to create a standard to allow business people to define the policies and rules by which they run their business in their own language, in terms of the things they deal with in the business, and to capture those rules in a way that is clear, unambiguous and readily translatable into other representations. SBVR proposal was developed by the Business Rules Team, a consortium organized in August 2003 to respond to the BSBR RFP.
In September 2005, The Business Modeling and Integration Task Force and the Architecture Board of the Object Management Group approved the proposal Semantics of Business Vocabulary and Business Rules (SBVR) to become a final adopted specification in response to the RFP. Later SBVR proposal was ratified by the Domain Technical Committee (DTC) and approved of the OMG Board of Directors.
A SBVR finalization task force has been launched, tasked to convert the proposal into ISO/OMG standard format and perform final editing prior to release as an OMG formal specification. The finalization has been completed in January 2008.
Methodologies used in software developing, are typically applied only when a problem is already formulated and well described. The actual difficulty lies in the previous step, that is describing problems and expected functionalities. Stakeholders involved in software development can express their ideas using a language very close to them, but they usually are not able to formalize these concepts in a clear and unambiguous way. This implies a large effort in order to interpret and understand real meanings and concepts hidden among stakeholders words. Special constraints on syntax or predefined linguistic structures can be used in order to overcome this problem, enabling natural language to well represent and formally define problems and requirements.
The main purpose of natural language modelling is hence to make natural language suitable for conceptual modelling. The focus is on semantic aspects and shared meanings, while syntax is thought in a perspective based on formal logic mapping.
Conceptualization and representation play fundamental roles in thinking, communicating, and modeling. For each concept there is a triad of 1) the concept in our minds, 2) the real-world things conceptualized by the concept, and 3) a representation of the concept that we can use to think and communicate about the concept and its corresponding real-world things. A conceptual model is a formal structure representing a possible world, comprising a conceptual schema and a set of facts that instantiate the conceptual schema. The conceptual schema is a combination of concepts and facts of what is possible, necessary, permissible, and obligatory in each possible world. The set of facts instantiates the conceptual schema by assertion to describe one possible world. A rule is a fact that asserts either a logical necessity or an obligation. Obligations are not necessarily satisfied by the facts; necessities are always satisfied.
SBVR contains a vocabulary for conceptual modeling and captures expressions based on this vocabulary as formal logic structures. The SBVR vocabulary allows one to specify formally representations of concepts, definitions, instances, and rules of any knowledge domain in natural language, including tabular forms. These features make SBVR well suited for describing business domains and requirements for business processes and information systems to implement business models.
Conceptual formalization describes a business domain, and is composed of 1) a conceptual schema (fact structure) and 2) a population of ground facts. A business domain (universe of discourse) comprises those aspects of the business that are of interest.
The schema declares:
A fact is a proposition taken to be true by the business. Population facts are restricted to elementary and existential facts.
Constraints can be static or dynamic:
e.g. a person’s marital status may change from single to married, but not from divorced to single
Derivation of facts.
The rule-based approach aims to address two different kinds of users:
The essence of the rule-based conceptual formalizations is that rules build on facts, and facts build on concepts as expressed by terms
SVR Structural Business Rules use two alethic modal operators:
SBVR Operative Business Rules use two deontic modal operators:
Structural business rules (static constraints) are treated as alethic necessities by default, where each state of the fact model corresponds to a possible world. Pragmatically, the rule is understood to apply to all future states of the fact model, until the rule is revoked or changed. For the model theory, the necessity operator is omitted from the formula. Instead, the rule is merely tagged as a necessity. For compliance with Common Logic, such formulae can be treated as irregular expressions, with the modal necessity operator treated as an uninterpreted symbol.
If the rule includes exactly one deontic operator, e.g. O (obligation), and this is at the front, then the rule may be formalized as Op, where p is a first-order formula that is tagged as obligatory. In SBVR, this tag is assigned the informal semantics: it ought to be the case that p (for all future states of the fact model, until the constraint is revoked or changed). From a model-theoretic perspective, a model is an interpretation where each non-deontic formula evaluates to true, and the model is classified as: a permitted model if the p in each deontic formula (of the form Op) evaluates to true, otherwise the model is a forbidden model (though still a model). This approach removes any need to assign a truth value to expressions of the form Op.
SBVR captures business facts and business rules that may be expressed either informally or formally. Business rule expressions are formal only if they are expressed purely in terms of: fact types in the pre-declared schema for the business domain, certain logical/ mathematical operators, quantifiers etc. Formal rules are transformed into a logical formulation that is used for exchange with other rules-based software tools. Informal rules may be exchanged as un-interpreted comments.
Several MDA-related OMG works in progress are expected to incorporate SBVR, including:
The Ontology Definition Metamodel (ODM) has been made compatible with SBVR, primarily by aligning the logic grounding of the ISO Common Logic specification (CL) referenced by ODM with the SBVR Logical Formulation of Semantics vocabulary. CL itself was modified specifically so it potentially can include the modal sentence requirements of SBVR. ODM provides a bridge to link SBVR to the Web Ontology Language for Services (OWL-S), Resource Description Framework Schema (RDFS), Unified Modeling Language (UML), Topic Map (TM), Entity Relationship Modeling (ER), Description Logic (DL), and CL.
Other programs outside the OMG are adopting SBVR. The Digital Business Ecosystem (DBE), an integrated project of the European Commission Framework Programme 6, has adopted SBVR as the basis for its Business Modeling Language. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is assessing SBVR for use in the Semantic Web, through the bridge provided by ODM. SBVR will extend the capability of MDA in all these areas.