Formal specification based prototyping

Hekmatpour, Shahram (1987). Formal specification based prototyping. PhD thesis The Open University.



Rapid prototyping is an approach to software development which attempts to remedy some of the shortcomings of the linear life cycle model, e.g. its inability to cope with fuzzy requirements and system evolution. This thesis first presents a broad survey of rapid software prototyping. It describes the rationale behind the process, the applications of prototyping, and specific techniques which may be used to achieve them.

We then describe a system, called EPROS, together with its methodology, which supports a number of prototyping techniques in a coherent framework. The system is comprehensive in its approach and covers the prototyping and development of both functional and human-computer interface aspects of software systems. The former is based on the execution of VDM-based formal specification notation META-IV; the latter is based on a textual representation of state transition diagrams. Dialogue development is further supported by a rich set of abstractions which allow interaction concepts to be specified and directly executed rather than implemented.

EPROS is based on a wide spectrum language which supports the main phases of a software development process, namely specification, design, and implementation. Included in this notation is a meta abstraction facility which facilitates its extension by the programmer.

The primary application of EPROS is for evolutionary prototyping, where a system is developed iteratively and gradually from the abstract to the detailed, while it undergoes use and while its capabilities evolve. EPROS copes with all the requirements of evolutionary prototyping, namely rapid development, intermediate deliveries and gradual evolution of the system towards the final product.

The thesis also describes a number of case studies where the presented ideas are put in practice, and which provide data in support of the effectiveness of the described system.

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