Semantics, implementation and pragmatics of Clear, a program specification language
Specifications are necessary for communicating decisions and intentions and for documenting results at many stages of the program development process. Informal specifications are typically used today, but they are imprecise and often ambiguous. Formal specifications are precise and exact but are more difficult to write and understand. We present work aimed toward enabling the practical use of formal specifications in program development, concentrating on the Clear language for structured algebraic specification. Two different but equivalent denotational semantics for Clear are given. One is a version of a semantics due to Burstall and Goguen with a few corrections, in which the category-theoretic notion of a colimit is used to define Clear's structuring operations independently of the underlying 'institution' (logical formalism). The other semantics defines the same operations by means of straightforward set-theoretic constructions; it is not institutionindependent but it can be modified to handle all institutions of apparent interest. Both versions of the semantics have been implemented. The settheoretic implementation is by far the more useful of the two, and includes a parser and typechecker. An implementation is useful for detecting syntax and type errors in specifications, and can be used as a front end for systems which manipulate specifications. Several large specifications which have been processed by the set-theoretic implementation are presented. A semi-automatic theorem prover for Clear built on top of the Edinburgh LCF system is described. It takes advantage of the structure of Clear specifications to restrict the available information to that which seems relevant to proving the theorem at hand. If the system is unable to prove a theorem automatically the user can attempt the proof interactively using the high-level primitives and inference rules provided. We lay a theoretical foundation for the use of Clear in systematic program development by investigating a new notion of the implementation of a specification by a lower-level specification. This notion extends to handle parameterised specifications. We show that this implementation relation is transitive and commutes with Clear's structuring operations under certain conditions. This means that a large specification can be refined to a program in a gradual and modular fashion, where the correctness of the individual refinements guarantees the correctness of the resulting program.