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Communications of the ACM

Communications of the ACM

Abstract data types and software validation

A data abstraction can be naturally specified using algebraic axioms. The virtue of these axioms is that they permit a representation-independent formal specification of a data type. An example is given which shows how to employ algebraic axioms at successive levels of implementation. The major thrust of the paper is twofold. First, it is shown how the use of algebraic axiomatizations can simplify the process of proving the correctness of an implementation of an abstract data type. Second, semi-automatic tools are described which can be used both to automate such proofs of correctness and to derive an immediate implementation from the axioms. This implementation allows for limited testing of programs at design time, before a conventional implementation is accomplished.

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