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Operational Semantics: concepts and their expression

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Cliff Jones



One of the earliest approaches to giving formal semantics for programming languages was ``operational semantics''. Enthusiasm for this approach has waxed and waned. The main objective of this paper is to tease apart some concepts involved in writing such operational descriptions and (as separately as possible) to discuss useful notations. A subsidiary observation is that ``formal methods'' will only be used when their cost-benefit balance is positive. Here, learning mathematical ideas that are likely to be unfamiliar to educated software engineers must be considered as a cost; the benefit must be found in understanding, manipulating and recording ideas that are important in software.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Jones CB

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Information Processing Letters

Year: 2003

Volume: 88

Issue: 1-2

Pages: 27-32

Date deposited: 26/11/2004

ISSN (print): 0020-0190

ISSN (electronic): 1872-6119

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/S0020-0190(03)00383-1

Notes: Paper presented at the 2003 ETAPS-WMT conference to honour Professor W.M. Turski's Contribution to Computing Science on the Occasion of his 65th Birthday - held at Warsaw, Poland, 5-13 April 2003.


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