Experimental comparison of the comprehensibility of a Z specification and its implementation.
Empirical Assessment in Software Engineering, Keele University,
09 - 11 Apr 2001.
Understandability is often raised as a problem with formal notations and yet practitioners using formal methods dispute this. In a survey, one interviewee said "formal specifications are no more difficult to understand than code". Measurement of comprehension is necessarily comparative and perhaps the most useful comparison for a specification is with its implementation. Practitioners have a reasonably good intuitive feel for the comprehension of code and a quantified comparison will therefore transfer this feeling to formal specifications. We performed an experiment to compare the comprehension of a Z specification with that of its implementation in Java code. The results indicate that there is little difference in comprehensibility between the two.
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Experimental comparison of the comprehensibility of a Z specification and its implementation. (deposited 18 Jun 2003)
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