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The early search for tractable ways of reasoning about programs

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Cliff JonesORCiD



This paper traces the important steps in the history --up to around 1990--of research on reasoning about programs. The main focus is on sequential imperative programs but some comments are made on concurrency. Initially, researchers focussed on ways of verifying that a program satisfies its specification (or that two programs were equivalent). Over time it became clear that {\em post facto} verification is only practical for small programs and attention turned to verification methods which support the development of programs; for larger programs it is necessary to exploit a notation of compositionality. Coping with concurrent algorithms is much more challenging -- this and other extensions are considered briefly. The main thesis of this paper is that the idea of reasoning about programs has been around since they were first written; the search has been to find tractable methods.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Jones CB

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: IEEE Annals of the History of Computing

Year: 2003

Volume: 25

Issue: 2

Pages: 26-49

Date deposited: 26/11/2004

ISSN (print): 1058-6180

ISSN (electronic): 1934-1547

Publisher: IEEE


DOI: 10.1109/MAHC.2003.1203057


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