Modelica® - A Unified Object-Oriented Language for Systems Modeling Language Specification Version 3.4

Chapter 11 Statements and Algorithm Sections

Whereas equations are very well suited for physical modeling, there are situations where computations are more conveniently expressed as algorithms, i.e., sequences of statements. In this chapter we describe the algorithmic constructs that are available in Modelica.

Statements are imperative constructs allowed in algorithm sections.

11.1 Algorithm Sections

An algorithm section is comprised of the keyword algorithm followed by a sequence of statements. The formal syntax is as follows:

algorithm-section :
[ initial ] algorithm { statement ";" | annotation ";" }

Equation equality = or any other kind of equation (see chapter 8) shall not be used in an algorithm section.

11.1.1 Initial Algorithm Sections

See section 8.6 for a description of both initial algorithm sections and initial equation sections.

11.1.2 Execution of an algorithm in a model

An algorithm section is conceptually a code fragment that remains together and the statements of an algorithm section are executed in the order of appearance. Whenever an algorithm section is invoked, all variables appearing on the left hand side of the assignment operator ”:=” are initialized (at least conceptually):

  • A non-discrete variable is initialized with its start value (i.e. the value of the start-attribute).

  • A discrete variable v is initialized with pre(v).

  • If at least one element of an array appears on the left hand side of the assignment operator, then the complete array is initialized in this algorithm section.

[Initialization is performed, in order that an algorithm section cannot introduce a ”memory” (except in the case of discrete states which are explicitly given), which could invalidate the assumptions of a numerical integration algorithm. Note, a Modelica tool may change the evaluation of an algorithm section, provided the result is identical to the case, as if the above conceptual processing is performed.

An algorithm section is treated as an atomic vector-equation, which is sorted together with all other equations. For the sorting process (BLT), every algorithm section with N different left-hand side variables, is treated as an atomic N-dimensional vector-equation containing all variables appearing in the algorithm section. This guarantees that all N equations end up in an algebraic loop and the statements of the algorithm section remain together.


model Test // wrong Modelica model (has 4 equations for 2 unknowns)
  Real x[2](start={-11, -22});
algorithm // conceptually: x = {1,-22}
  x[1] := 1;
algorithm // conceptually: x = {-11,2}
  x[2] := 2;
end Test;


11.1.3 Execution of the algorithm in a function

See section 12.4.4 “Initialization and Declaration Assignments of Components in Functions”.

11.2 Statements

Statements are imperative constructs allowed in algorithm sections. A flattened statement is identical to the corresponding nonflattened statement.

Names in statements are found as follows:

  • If the name occurs inside an expression: it is first found among the lexically enclosing reduction functions (see section 10.3.4) in order starting from the inner-most, and if not found it proceeds as if it were outside an expression:

  • Names in a statement are first found among the lexically enclosing for-statements in order starting from the inner-most, and if not found:

  • Names in a statement shall be found by looking up in the partially flattened enclosing class of the algorithm section.

The syntax of statements is as follows:

statement :
  ( component-reference ( ":=" expression | function-call-args )
    | "(" output-expression-list ")" ":=" component-reference function-call-args
    | break
    | return
    | if-statement
    | for-statement
    | while-statement
    | when-statement )

11.2.1 Simple Assignment Statements

The syntax of simple assignment statement is as follows:

component-reference ":=" expression

The expression is evaluated. The resulting value is stored into the variable denoted by component-reference. Assignments from Called Functions with Multiple Results

There is a special form of assignment statement that is used only when the right-hand side contains a call to a function with multiple results. The left-hand side contains a parenthesized, comma-separated list of variables receiving the results from the function call. A function with n results needs m<=n receiving variables on the left-hand side, and the variables are assigned from left to right.

(out1, out2, out3) := function_name(in1, in2, in3, in4);

It is possible to omit receiving variables from this list:

(out1,, out3) := function_name(in1, in2, in3, in4);

[Example: The function f called below has three results and two inputs:

  (a, b, c) := f(1.0, 2.0);
  (x[1], x[2], x[1]) := f(3,4);

In the second example above x[1] is assigned twice – first with the first output and then with the third output. For that case the following will give the same result:

  (, x[2], x[1]) := f(3,4);


The syntax of an assignment statement with a call to a function with multiple results is as follows:

"(" output-expression-list ")" ":=" component-reference function-call-args

[Also see section 8.3.1 regarding calling functions with multiple results within equations.]

11.2.2 For-statement

The syntax of a for-statement is as follows:

for for-indices loop
  { statement ";" }
end for

For-statements may optionally use several iterators (for-indices), see section for more information:

   for-index {"," for-index}
   IDENT [ in  expression ]

The following is an example of a prefix of a for-statement:

for IDENT in expression loop

The expression of a for-statement shall be a vector expression. It is evaluated once for each for-statement, and is evaluated in the scope immediately enclosing the for-statement. The loop-variable (IDENT) is in scope inside the loop-construct and shall not be assigned to. The loop-variable has the same type as the type of the elements of the vector expression.


for i in 1:10 loop // i takes the values 1,2,3,…,10
for r in 1.0 : 1.5 : 5.5 loop // r takes the values 1.0, 2.5, 4.0, 5.5
for i in {1,3,6,7} loop // i takes the values 1, 3, 6, 7
for i in TwoEnums loop // i takes the values, TwoEnums.two
        // for TwoEnums = enumeration(one,two)

The loop-variable may hide other variables as in the following example. Using another name for the loop-variable is, however, strongly recommended.

  constant Integer j=4;
  Real x[j];
  for j in 1:j loop // The loop-variable j takes the values 1,2,3,4
    x[j]=j; // Uses the loop-variable j
  end for;

] Implicit Iteration Ranges

An iterator IDENT in range-expr without the in range-expr requires that the IDENT appears as the subscript of one or several subscripted expressions. The dimension size of the array expression in the indexed position is used to deduce the range-expr as 1:size(array-expression,indexpos) if the indices are a subtype of Integer, or as E.e1:E.en if the indices are of an enumeration type E=enumeration(e1, ..., en), or as false:true if the indices are of type Boolean. If it is used to subscript several expressions, their ranges must be identical. The IDENT may also, inside a reduction-expression, array constructor expression, for-statement, or for-equation, occur freely outside of subscript positions, but only as a reference to the variable IDENT, and not for deducing ranges.


  Real x[4];
  Real xsquared[:]={x[i]*x[i] for  i};
  // Same as: {x[i]*x[i] for i in 1:size(x,1)}
  Real xsquared2[size(x,1)];
  Real xsquared3[size(x,1)];
  for i loop // Same as: for i in 1:size(x,1) loop 
  end for;
  for i loop // Same as: for i in 1:size(x,1) loop 
    xsquared3[i] := x[i]^2;
  end for;
type FourEnums=enumeration(one,two,three,four);
  Real xe[FourEnums]= x;
  Real xsquared3[FourEnums]={xe[i]*xe[i] for i};
  Real xsquared4[FourEnums]={xe[i]*xe[i] for i in FourEnums};
  Real xsquared5[FourEnums]={x[i]*x[i] for  i};


The size of an array – the iteration range is evaluated on entry to the for-loop and the array size may not change during the execution of the for-loop. Types as Iteration Ranges

The iteration range can be specified as Boolean or as an enumeration type. This means iteration over the type from min to max, i.e. for Boolean it is the same as false:true and for an enumeration E it is the same as E.min:E.max. This can be used for for loops and reduction expressions.


  type FourEnums=enumeration(one,two,three,four);
  Real xe[FourEnums];
  Real xsquared1[FourEnums];
  Real xsquared2[FourEnums]={xe[i]*xe[i] for i in FourEnums};
  for i in FourEnums loop
  end for;

] Nested For-Loops and Reduction Expressions with Multiple Iterators

The notation with several iterators is a shorthand notation for nested for-statements or for-equations (or reduction-expressions). For for-statements or for-equations it can be expanded into the usual form by replacing each “,” by ‘loop for’ and adding extra ‘end for’. For reduction-expressions it can be expanded into the usual form by replacing each ‘,’ by ‘) for’ and prepending the reduction-expression with ‘function-name(‘.


  Real x[4,3];
  for j, i in 1:2 loop
    // The loop-variable j takes the values 1,2,3,4 (due to use)
    // The loop-variable i takes the values 1,2 (given range)
    x[j,i] := j+i;
  end for;


11.2.3 While-Statement

The while-statement has the following syntax:

while expression loop
  { statement ";" }
end while

The expression of a while-statement shall be a scalar Boolean expression. The while-statement corresponds to while-statements in programming languages, and is formally defined as follows:

  1. 1.

    The expression of the while-statement is evaluated.

  2. 2.

    If the expression of the while-statement is false, the execution continues after the while-statement.

  3. 3.

    If the expression of the while-statement is true, the entire body of the while-statement is executed (except if a break-statement, see section 11.2.4, or a return-statement, see section 11.2.5, is executed), and then execution proceeds at step 1.

11.2.4 Break-Statement

The break-statement breaks the execution of the innermost while or for-loop enclosing the break-statement and continues execution after the while- or for-loop. It can only be used in a while- or for-loop in an algorithm section. It has the following syntax:


[Example (note this could alternatively use return):

function findValue "Returns position of val or 0 if not found"
  input Integer x[:];
  input Integer val;
  output Integer index;
  index := size(x,1);
  while index >= 1 loop
    if x[index]== val then
      index := index -- 1;
    end if;
  end while;
end findValue;


11.2.5 Return-Statements

Can only be used inside functions, see section 12.1.2.

11.2.6 If-Statement

If-statements have the following syntax:

if expression then
  { statement ";" }
    { elseif expression then
  { statement ";" }
  [ else
    { statement ";" }
end if;

The expression of an if- or elseif-clause must be scalar Boolean expression. One if-clause, and zero or more elseif-clauses, and an optional else-clause together form a list of branches. One or zero of the bodies of these if-, elseif- and else-clauses is selected, by evaluating the conditions of the if- and elseif-clauses sequentially until a condition that evaluates to true is found. If none of the conditions evaluate to true the body of the else-clause is selected (if an else-clause exists, otherwise no body is selected). In an algorithm section, the selected body is then executed. The bodies that are not selected have no effect on that model evaluation.

11.2.7 When-Statements

A when-statement has the following syntax:

when expression then
  { statement ";" }
  { elsewhen expression then
  { statement ";" } }
end when

The expression of a when-statement shall be a discrete-time Boolean scalar or vector expression. The algorithmic statements within a when-statement are activated when the scalar or any one of the elements of the vector-expression becomes true.


Algorithms are activated when x becomes > 2:

when x > 2 then
  y1 := sin(x);
  y3 := 2*x + y1+y2;
end when;

The statements inside the when-statement are activated when either x becomes > 2 or sample(0,2) becomes true or x becomes less than 5:

when {x > 2, sample(0,2), x < 5}
  y1 := sin(x);
  y3 := 2*x + y1+y2;
end when;

For when-statements in algorithm sections the order is significant and it is advisable to have only one assignment within the when-statement and instead use several algorithm sections having when-statements with identical conditions, e.g.:

  when x > 2 then
    y1 := sin(x);
  end when;
  y2 = sin(y1);
  when x > 2 then
    y3 := 2*x +y1+y2;
  end when;

Merging the when-statements can lead to less efficient code and different models with different behavior depending on the order of the assignment to y1 and y3 in the algorithm.

] Restrictions on When-Statements

  • A when-statement shall not be used within a function.

  • When-statements may not occur inside initial algorithms.

  • When-statements cannot be nested.

  • When-statements may not occur inside while, if, and for-clauses in algorithms.


The following nested when-statement is invalid:

when x > 2 then
  when y1 > 3 then
    y2 := sin(x);
  end when;
end when;

] Defining When-Statements by If-Statements

A when-statement:

  when {x>1, ..., y>p} then
    elsewhen x > y.start then
  end when;

is similar to the following special if-statement, where Boolean b1[N]; and Boolean b2; are necessary because the edge() operator can only be applied to variables

  Boolean b1[N](start={x.start>1, ...,
  Boolean b2(start=x.start>y.start);
  b1:={x>1, ..., y>p};
  if edge(b1[1]) or edge(b1[2]) or ...
    edge(b1[N]) then
    elseif edge(b2) then
  end if;

with edge(A)= A and not pre(A) and the additional guarantee, that the statements within this special if-statement are only evaluated at event instants. The difference compared to the when-statements is that e.g. ‘pre’ may only be used on continuous-time real variables inside the body of a when-clause and not inside these if-statements.

11.2.8 Special Statements

These special statements have the same form and semantics as the corresponding equations, apart from the general difference in semantics between equations and statements. Assert Statement

See section 8.3.7. A failed assert stops the execution of the current algorithm. Terminate Statement

See section 8.3.8. The terminate statement may not be in functions; In an algorithm outside a function it does not stop the execution of the current algorithm.