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Experimental comparison of the comprehensibility of a Z specification and its implementation in Java

Experimental comparison of the comprehensibility of a Z specification and its implementation in Java
Experimental comparison of the comprehensibility of a Z specification and its implementation in Java
Comprehensibility is often raised as a problem with formal notations, yet formal methods practitioners 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 a useful comparison for a specification is against its implementation. Practitioners have an intuitive feel for the comprehension of code. A quantified comparison will 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. The results indicate there is little difference in comprehensibility between the two.
Empirical assessment, Formal specification, Comprehension
955-971
Snook, Colin
30a11125-cbb5-454f-8703-3f11aae9ba69
Harrison, Rachel
a2bce6a7-852b-48e7-a816-d1e50cd97c56
Snook, Colin
30a11125-cbb5-454f-8703-3f11aae9ba69
Harrison, Rachel
a2bce6a7-852b-48e7-a816-d1e50cd97c56

Snook, Colin and Harrison, Rachel (2004) Experimental comparison of the comprehensibility of a Z specification and its implementation in Java. Information and Software Technology, 46 (14), 955-971.

Record type: Article

Abstract

Comprehensibility is often raised as a problem with formal notations, yet formal methods practitioners 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 a useful comparison for a specification is against its implementation. Practitioners have an intuitive feel for the comprehension of code. A quantified comparison will 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. The results indicate there is little difference in comprehensibility between the two.

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More information

Published date: November 2004
Additional Information: Event Dates: 9/04/01 - 11/04/01
Venue - Dates: Empirical Assessment in Software Engineering, 2001-04-09 - 2001-04-11
Keywords: Empirical assessment, Formal specification, Comprehension
Organisations: Electronics & Computer Science

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 260170
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/260170
PURE UUID: 520a8686-aace-4064-ab85-050d06c7c582

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 02 Dec 2004
Last modified: 25 Nov 2019 21:07

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