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Some remarks about formal and informal specification methods in the context of software development

Geschaeftsstelle Schloss Dagstuhl
Publication Date
  • Communication
  • Computer Science
  • Design


In: L. Bannon, R. Keil-Slawik & I. Wagner (1995, Eds.), Interdisciplinary foundations of system design and evaluation (Dagstuhl-Seminar-Report, 97, 19.09.-23.09.94 (9438), pp. 42-45). Wadern: Schloss Dagstuhl. 42 Some remarks about formal and informal specification methods in the context of software development Matthias Rauterberg Work and Organisational Psychology Unit Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Nelkenstrasse 11, CH-8092 Zuerich, [email protected] Starting point for our reflections Analysis of current software development processes brings to light a series of weaknesses and problems, the sources of which lie in the theoretical concepts applied, the traditional procedures followed (especially project management) as well as in the use of inadequate formal design methodologies. This chapter contains an ample store of proposed solutions based on current practice in software development. These point to the significance of a domain specific formalism. Analysis of actual software development processes shows that there are three essential barriers: the specification barrier, the communication barrier and the optimisation barrier (Rauterberg & Strohm 1992). Speaking quite generally, one of the most important problems lies in coming to a shared understanding by all the affected goups of the component of the worksystem to be automated (Naur 1985) - that is, to find the answers to the questions of "if", "where" and "how" for the planned implementation of technology, to which a shared commitment can be reached. This involves, in particular, determining all the characteristics of the work system that are to be planned anew (Rauterberg 1993). Every work system comprises a social and a technical subsystem. An optimal total system must integrate both simultaneously. In order to arrive at the optimal design for the total working system, it is of paramount importance to regard the social subsystem as a system in its own right, endowed with its own specific characteristics and conditions,

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