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A Family of Mathematical Documents for Professional Software Documentation

Professor David Parnas ( Software Quality Research Laboratory, University of Limerick )

Software documentation is one of the most important, and least studied, problems in Software Engineering. Anecdotal evidence suggests that a huge amount of time is spent trying to recover, digest, and understand information that was never written down. Even when it is written down, the information is hard to find, often inaccurate and usually incomplete. This talk proposes a family of documents, based on a common model, designed to be complementary and mutually supportive.

The design approach being developed at the Software Quality Research Lab at the University of Limerick is characterised by two major decisions:

  • Software developers must prepare and maintain a set of documents whose content (not format) is specified by a relational model
  • The relations are represented using mathematical expressions in tabular form. [5].
This talk will motivate these decisions, describe the model, illustrate the concept of tabular expressions, and discuss the uses of such documents in software development.

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