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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Algebraic specification : syntax, semantics, structure

  • Author(s): Srinivas, Yellamraju V.
  • et al.

Algebraic specification is the technique of using algebras to model properties of a system and using axioms to characterize such algebras. Algebraic specification comprises two aspects: the underlying logic used in the axioms and algebras, and the use of a small, general set of operators to build specifications in a structured manner. We describe these two aspects using the unifying notion of institutions. An institution is an abstraction of a logical system, describing the vocabulary, the kinds of axioms, the kinds of algebras, and the relation between them. Using institutions, one can define general structuring operators which are independent of the underlying logic. In this paper, we survey the different kind of logics, syntax, semantics, and structuring operators that have been used in algebraic specification.

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