Clinical Quality Language Release 1 STU 3 (1.3)
Clinical Decision Support Work GroupMaturity Level: 4Ballot Status: STU 3

6. Translation Semantics

As discussed in the introductory section, this specification covers three levels of definition, the Conceptual or Author level, the Logical level, and the Physical level. The Conceptual level is concerned with the representation of logic in a format suitable for authoring and consumption by clinical experts; the Physical level is concerned with the representation of logic in a format suitable for processing and transferring by machines; and the Logical level is concerned with providing a mapping between the Conceptual and Physical levels in a way that preserves the semantics of the logic represented while also enabling integration and execution functionality.

To achieve these goals, the Logical level establishes a semantically complete bi-directional mapping between the Conceptual and Physical levels. This chapter describes this mapping in more detail, and sketches a process for translation from the Conceptual to the Logical, and from the Logical to the Conceptual. The Physical level is an isomorphic concrete realization of the Logical level; translation between the Logical and Physical levels is therefore a matter of serialization and realization of the data model, and is covered in detail in the Physical Representation chapter.

1. CQL-to-ELM

Every statement of CQL has a semantically equivalent representation in ELM. As such, it is possible to programmatically translate any statement of CQL into its equivalent ELM representation. The following sections define the mappings between the language elements of CQL and their equivalent ELM representations, as well as providing a sketch for how these mappings could be used to translate from CQL to ELM.

1.1. Declarations

In both CQL and ELM, the basic container for all declarations is the Library. In CQL, a library corresponds to a single source document, usually represented as a text file. In ELM, a library is represented as a single instance of the Library class which contains all the declarations for the library.

The identifier and version of the library are set as part of the library metadata.

The following table specifies the ELM equivalent for each CQL declaration:

CQL Declaration ELM Equivalent

library

Library

using

UsingDef

include

IncludeDef

codesystem

CodeSystemDef

valueset

ValueSetDef

parameter

ParameterDef

define

ExpressionDef

function

FunctionDef

Table 6‑A

1.2. Types

To represent types, CQL uses the type-specifier construct. In ELM, an equivalent TypeSpecifier abstract class is defined, with appropriate subclasses to represent the various types of specifiers, as detailed in the following table:

CQL Specifier ELM Equivalent

named-type-specifier

NamedTypeSpecifier

interval-type-specifier

IntervalTypeSpecifier

list-type-specifier

ListTypeSpecifier

tuple-type-specifier

TupleTypeSpecifier

choice-type-specifier

ChoiceTypeSpecifier

Table 6‑B

Note that for named type specifiers, the name of the type is a qualified identifier, with the qualifier representing the name of the data model that defines the type. For example, the system-defined integer type in CQL is named System.Integer, with System as the name of the data model, and Integer as the name of the type.

1.3. Literals and Selectors

The following table defines the mapping between the various CQL literals and their equivalent representation in ELM:

CQL Literal ELM Equivalent

null

Null

boolean-literal

Boolean

integer-literal

Literal (valueType="Integer")

decimal-literal

Literal (valueType="Decimal")

quantity-literal

Quantity

ratio-literal

Ratio

string-literal

Literal (valueType="String")

date-literal

Date

date-time-literal

DateTime

time-literal

Time

interval-selector

Interval

list-selector

List

tuple-selector

Tuple

instance-selector

Instance

Table 6‑C

1.4. Functions

Most of the functions and operations available in CQL have a direct counterpart in ELM. For ease of reference, the operations and functions are grouped the same way they are in the CQL Reference.

1.4.1. Logical Operators

CQL Operator ELM Equivalent

and

And

not

Not

or

Or

xor

Xor

implies

Implies

Table 6‑D

1.4.2. Type Operators

CQL Operator ELM Equivalent

as

As

convert

Convert

is

Is

Children

Children

Descendents

Descendents

Table 6‑E

Note that for supported conversions, a more efficient implementation would be to emit a specific operator to perform the conversion, rather than a generic Convert as specified here. For example, consider the following CQL conversion expression:

convert B to String

Rather than emitting a Convert, an implementation could emit a ToString which took an integer parameter. This would prevent the run-time type check required for implementation of a general purpose Convert operator.

Note also that when translating to ELM, an implementation could emit all implicit conversions directly, avoiding the need for an ELM translator or execution engine to deal with implicit conversion.

1.4.3. Nullological Operators

CQL Operator ELM Equivalent

Coalesce

Coalesce

is null

IsNull

is false

IsFalse

is true

IsTrue

Table 6‑F

1.4.4. Comparison Operators

CQL Operator ELM Equivalent

between

And of comparisons (for point types) or IncludedIn (for Interval types)

=

Equal

>

Greater

>=

GreaterOrEqual

<

Less

<=

LessOrEqual

~

Equivalent

!=

NotEqual

!~

Not of Equivalent

Table 6‑G

1.4.5. Arithmetic Operators

CQL Operator ELM Equivalent

Abs

Abs

+

Add

Ceiling

Ceiling

/

Divide

Floor

Floor

Exp

Exp

Log

Log

Ln

Ln

maximum

MaxValue

minimum

MinValue

mod

Modulo

*

Multiply

- (unary minus)

Negate

predecessor

Predecessor

^

Power

Round

Round

-

Subtract

successor

Successor

Truncate

Truncate

div

TruncatedDivide

Table 6‑H

1.4.6. String Operators

CQL Operator ELM Equivalent

Combine

Combine

+, &

Concatenate (when & is used, a Coalesce(X, ‘’) is applied to each operand

EndsWith

EndsWith

[]

Indexer

LastPositionOf

LastPositionOf

Length

Length

Lower

Lower

Matches

Matches

PositionOf

PositionOf

ReplaceMatches

ReplaceMatches

Split

Split

StartsWith

StartsWith

Substring

Substring

Upper

Upper

Table 6‑I

1.4.7. Date/Time Operators

CQL Operator ELM Equivalent

+

Add

after

After

before

Before

Date

Date

DateTime

DateTime

component from

DateTimeComponentFrom

difference..between

DifferenceBetween

duration..between

DurationBetween

Now

Now

same as

SameAs

same or after

SameOrAfter

same or before

SameOrBefore

-

Subtract

Time

Time

TimeOfDay

TimeOfDay

Today

Today

Table 6‑J

1.4.8. Interval Operators

CQL Operator ELM Equivalent

after

After

before

Before

collapse

Collapse

contains

Contains

end of

End

ends

Ends

=

Equal

except

Except

in

In

includes

Includes

during

IncludedIn

included in

IncludedIn

intersect

Intersect

~

Equivalent

meets

Meets

meets after

MeetsAfter

meets before

MeetsBefore

!=

NotEqual

!~

Not of Equivalent

overlaps

Overlaps

on or after

SameOrAfter

on or before

SameOrBefore

overlaps after

OverlapsAfter

overlaps before

OverlapsBefore

point from

PointFrom

properly includes

ProperlyIncludes

properly included in

ProperlyIncludedIn

properly during

ProperlyIncludedIn

start of

Start

starts

Starts

union

Union

width of

Width

Table 6‑K

1.4.9. List Operators

CQL Operator ELM Equivalent

contains

Contains

distinct

Distinct

=

Equal

except

Except

exists

Exists

flatten

Flatten

First

First

in

In

includes

Includes

included in

IncludedIn

[]

Indexer

IndexOf

IndexOf

intersect

Intersect

Last

Last

Length

Length

~

Equivalent

!=

NotEqual

!~

Not of Equivalent

properly includes

ProperlyIncludes

properly included in

ProperlyIncludedIn

singleton from

SingletonFrom

Skip(n)

Slice(n, null)

Tail

Slice(1, null)

Take(n)

Slice(0, n)

union

Union

Table 6‑L

1.4.10. Aggregate Operators

CQL Operator ELM Equivalent

AllTrue

AllTrue

AnyTrue

AnyTrue

Avg

Avg

Count

Count

GeometricMean

GeometricMean

Max

Max

Min

Min

Median

Median

Mode

Mode

PopulationStdDev

PopulationStdDev

PopulationVariance

PopulationVariance

Product

Product

StdDev

StdDev

Sum

Sum

Variance

Variance

Table 6‑M

1.4.11. Clinical Operators

CQL Operator ELM Equivalent

AgeIn-precision

CalculateAge (with patient birthdate reference supplied)

AgeIn-precision-At

CalculateAgeAt (with patient birthdate reference supplied)

CalculateAgeIn-precision

CalculateAge

CalculateAgeIn-precision-At

CalculateAgeAt

=

Equal

~

Equivalent

in (Codesystem)

InCodeSystem

in (Valueset)

InValueSet

Table 6‑N

1.5. Phrases

In general, the various phrases of CQL do not have a direct representation in ELM, but rather result in operator and function invocations which then do have representations. For more information, see the Timing Phrases section.

1.6. Queries

The CQL query construct has a direct representation in ELM, as shown by the following table:

CQL Construct ELM Equivalent

query

Query

aliased-query-source

AliasedQuerySource

let-clause

LetClause

with-clause

With

without-clause

Without

where-clause

Query (where element)

return-clause

ReturnClause

sort-clause

SortClause

Table 6‑O

Althought these elements can be used to directly represent the query construct of CQL, it is also possible to represent queries using a series of equivalent operations that simplify implementation. ELM defines simplified operations specifically for this purpose. See the Implementing Query Evaluation section for more information on how to transform any given CQL query into an equivalent representation using these operators.

2. ELM-to-CQL

In addition to being able to translate CQL to ELM, any given expression of ELM can be represented in CQL. Support for this direction of translation would be useful for applications that produce ELM from another source, and need to display a human-readable representation of the logic.

This bi-directionality means that a given expression of CQL could be translated to ELM, and then back again. However, because ELM is typically a more primitive representation, this process is not necessarily a “round-trip”. For example, consider the following CQL:

A starts within 3 days of start B

This will actually result in the following ELM output:

<expression xsi:type="In">
  <operand xsi:type="DurationBetween" precision="Day">
    <operand xsi:type="Start">
      <operand xsi:type="ExpressionRef" name="A"/>
    </operand>
    <operand xsi:type="Start">
      <operand xsi:type="ExpressionRef" name="B"/>
    </operand>
  </operand>
  <operand xsi:type="Interval">
    <low xsi:type="Literal" valueType="xs:int" value="-3"/>
    <high xsi:type="Literal" valueType="xs:int" value="3"/>
  </operand>
</expression>

The above expression, rendered directly back to CQL would be:

days between start of A and start of B in [-3, 3]

These expressions are semantically equivalent, but not syntactically the same, as the first is targeted at understandability, while the second is targeted at implementation. To preserve “round-trip” capability, an implementation could emit annotations with the ELM using the extension mechanism of the base Element class to provide the original source CQL.

In general, the mapping from ELM to CQL is simply the opposite of the mapping described in the previous section. However, there are several special-purpose operators that are only defined in ELM which are used to simplify query implementation. For completeness, the mappings from those operators to CQL are described here to ensure that any given ELM document could be translated to CQL.

The examples in the following section will make use of the following expression definitions:

<def name="List1">
  <expression xsi:type="List">
    <element xsi:type="Tuple">
      <element name="X">
        <value xsi:type="Literal" valueType="xs:int" value="1"/>
      </element>
    </element>
    <element xsi:type="Tuple">
      <element name="X">
        <value xsi:type="Literal" valueType="xs:int" value="2"/>
      </element>
    </element>
    <element xsi:type="Tuple">
      <element name="X">
        <value xsi:type="Literal" valueType="xs:int" value="3"/>
      </element>
    </element>
  </expression>
</def>
<def name="List2">
  <expression xsi:type="List">
    <element xsi:type="Tuple">
      <element name="Y">
        <value xsi:type="Literal" valueType="xs:int" value="1"/>
      </element>
    </element>
    <element xsi:type="Tuple">
      <element name="Y">
        <value xsi:type="Literal" valueType="xs:int" value="2"/>
      </element>
    </element>
    <element xsi:type="Tuple">
      <element name="Y">
        <value xsi:type="Literal" valueType="xs:int" value="3"/>
      </element>
    </element>
  </expression>
</def>

2.1. ForEach

The ForEach operator in ELM takes an argument of type list and returns a list with an element for each source element that is the result of evaluating the element expression. For example:

<expression xsi:type="ForEach">
  <source xsi:type="ExpressionRef" name="List1"/>
  <element xsi:type="Property" path="X"/>
</expression>

This expression returns the list of integers from the List1 expression. Although there is no direct counterpart in CQL, this expression can be represented using the query construct. The source for the ForEach is used as the primary query source, and the element expression is represented using the return-clause:

List1 A return A.X

2.2. Times

The Times operator in ELM computes the Cartesian-product of two lists. Again, although there is no direct counterpart in CQL, the query construct can be used to produce an equivalent result:

<expression xsi:type="Times">
  <source xsi:type="ExpressionRef" name="List1"/>
  <source xsi:type="ExpressionRef" name="List2"/>
</expression>

Assuming List1 and List2 are defined as specified above, the equivalent CQL is a multi-source query with a source for each operand in the Times, and a return clause that builds the resulting tuples:

from List1 A, List2 B
  return { X: A.X, Y: B.Y }

2.3. Filter

The Filter operator in ELM filters the contents of a list, returning only those elements that satisfy the expression defined in the condition element. For example:

<expression xsi:type="Filter">
  <source xsi:type="ExpressionRef" name="List1"/>
  <condition xsi:type="Equal">
    <operand xsi:type="Property" path="X">
    <operand xsi:type="Literal" valueType="xs:int" value="1"/>
  </condition>
</expression>

Again, although no direct counterpart in CQL exists, the where clause of the query construct provides the equivalent functionality:

List1 A where A.X = 1

2.4. Sort

The Sort operator in ELM sorts the contents of a list. For example:

<expression xsi:type="Sort">
  <source xsi:type="ExpressionRef" name="List1"/>
  <by xsi:type="ByColumn" path="X" direction="desc"/>
</expression>

Again, the CQL query construct provides the equivalent functionality:

List1 A sort by X desc