Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Modelling as Theory Building

Balbir Barn pointed me to an old paper by Peter Naur: Programming as theory building in the Journal of Microprocessing and Microprogramming, 15(5):253 – 261, 1985. Naur proposes that program designers should explicitly build theories of an application that address all features of the domain that are related to the desired behaviour, whether the features have any direct counterpart in the eventual implementation or not. The theory is implemented by mapping it to a target platform. In doing so, the theory faithfully represents what would now be called the problem domain and represents the key development artifact that can be used to understand and maintain the application. This paper is very relevant to the activities of the DSM and DSL communities. In particular DSM development (for example profiles in UML) rarely pays attention to the semantics (the theory) of the language being defined.

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