© 2007

Semantics with Applications: An Appetizer


  • Provides a rigorous introduction to the main approaches to formal semantics of programming languages

  • Breaks new ground by considering the validation of compilers, static program analysers, validation of security properties and techniques for estimating the running time of individual programs


Part of the Undergraduate Topics in Computer Science book series (UTICS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. Pages 1-18
  3. Pages 19-46
  4. Pages 91-126
  5. Pages 145-174
  6. Pages 175-204
  7. Pages 247-250
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 251-274

About this book


Semantics will have an important role to play in the future development of software systems and domain specific languages, and there is a real need for an introductory book that presents the fundamental ideas behind these approaches; stresses their relationship by formulating and proving the relevant theorems; and illustrates the applications of semantics in computer science.

Written out of a tradition that places special emphasis on operational semantics, denotational semantics and axiomatic semantics, this book investigates the relationship between the various methods and describes some of the main ideas used, illustrating these via interesting applications. Historically important application areas are used together with some exciting potential applications including:

  • Validating prototype implementations of programming languages
  • Verifying program analyses that are part of more advanced implementations of programming languages
  • Verifying security analyses
  • Verifying useful program properties including information about execution time.

This is an introductory text that should serve as an appetizer to the whole area of semantics with applications.


Axiomatic semantics Operational Semantics Proof Systems Security Validation Static Analysers programming programming language semantics verification

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.The Technical University of DenmarkDenmark
  2. 2.The Technical University of DenmarkDenmark

Bibliographic information

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From the reviews:

"This book title, with its explicit reference to applications, quickly grabbed my attention due to the theoretical nature of formal semantics. … In any case, this book certainly fits the bill for an undergraduate course on the topic. … It also includes plenty of solved examples and exercises for students to help them grasp the key ideas and techniques behind the different mathematical models that can be used to describe the computations performed by a computer program." (Fernando Berzal, Computing Reviews, January, 2008)

"This book presents a rigorous introduction to the main three approaches: operational semantics, denotational semantics, and axiomatic semantics. This book investigates the relationship between the various methods, and describes some of the main ideas by using applications. … Several exercises are provided. … help the student to understand definitions, results, and techniques … ." (G. Ciobanu, ACM Computing Reviews, May, 2009)