Formal Systems, Not Methods

  • Martin Loomes
  • Bruce Christianson
  • Neil Davey
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 3294)


In this paper we will present an approach for teaching formalisms to Computer Science undergraduate students that has been developed over the past 23 years at the University of Hertfordshire (formerly Hatfield Polytechnic). We discuss the background and the evolution of the approach, the theoretical underpinning, the political motivation and some of the pedagogic issues that arise. Examples of the ways in which the generic approach has been specialised for different classes of students are discussed, and some of the implications for other curriculum areas that typically accompany these courses will be briefly mentioned.


Formal Method Formal System Turing Machine Curriculum Design Generic Skill 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Alexander, C.: Notes on the Synthesis of Form. Harvard University Press, Cambridge (1964)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bjørner, D.: Pinnacles of software engineering: 25 years of formal methods. Annals of Software Engineering 10, 11–66 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Boute, R.T.: Some Fundamental Concepts in Computer Science for Telecommunication Engineers. BTM, Antwerp (June 1980)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Burstall, R.M., Goguen, J.A.: Putting theories together to make specifications. In: Proceedings of the Fifth International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (1977)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Feyerabend, P.: Against method: outline of an anarchistic theory of knowledge, NLB (1975)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Hayes, I. (ed.): Specification Case Studies. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs (1987)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Jones, J., Loomes, M., Shaw, R.: An Education Programme for Practising Software Engineers. Proceedings of Software Engineering 86 (1986)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Kent Dybvig, R.: The Scheme Programming Language, 3rd edn. The MIT Press, Cambridge (2003)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Kozmetsky, G.: The significant role of problem solving in education. In: Tuma, D.T., Reif, F. (eds.) Problem Solving and Education: Issues in Teaching and Research, pp. 151–157. Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah (1980)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Loomes, M.J.: Software Engineering Curriculum Design, University of Surrey PhD Thesis (1991), available from the Scholar
  11. 11.
    Mills, Harlan, D.: Software engineering education. Proceedings of the IEEE, 1158–1162 (September 1980)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Mitchell, R., Loomes, M.: Howse: Structuring Formal Specifications - A Lesson Relearned. Microprocessors and Microsystems 18(10), 593–599 (1994); Butterworth-Heine, ISSN 0141-9331CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Naur, P.: Programming as theory building. Microprocessing and Microprogramming 15, 253–261 (1985); Invited keynote address at Euromicro 84, Copenhagen, DenmarkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Popper, K.R.: Conjectures and Refutations. Routledge and Kegan Paul (1963)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Ryle, G.: The concept of mind. Peregrin Books (1949)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Woodcock, J., Loomes, M.: Software Engineering Mathematics. Pitman (1988)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Vinter, R., Loomes, M.J., Kornbrot, D.: Applying Software Metrics to Formal Specification: A Cognitive Approach. In: Proceedings of the 5th. International Software Metrics Symposium, pp. 216–223. IEEE Computer Science Press, Los Alamitos (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Vygotsky, L.S.: The collected works of LS Vygotsky, vol. 1. Plenum, New York (1987)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Loomes
    • 1
  • Bruce Christianson
    • 1
  • Neil Davey
    • 1
  1. 1.University of HertfordshireHatfield, HertsUK

Personalised recommendations