Discovering Empirical Theories of Modular Software Systems. An Algebraic Approach.

In Vincent Müller (ed.), Computing and Philosophy: Selected Papers from IACAP 2014 (Synthese Library). Springer. pp. 99-115 (2016)
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This paper is concerned with the construction of theories of software systems yielding adequate predictions of their target systems’ computations. It is first argued that mathematical theories of programs are not able to provide predictions that are consistent with observed executions. Empirical theories of software systems are here introduced semantically, in terms of a hierarchy of computational models that are supplied by formal methods and testing techniques in computer science. Both deductive top-down and inductive bottom-up approaches in the discovery of semantic software theories are refused to argue in favour of the abductive process of hypothesising and refining models at each level in the hierarchy, until they become satisfactorily predictive. Empirical theories of computational systems are required to be modular, as modular are most software verification and testing activities. We argue that logic relations must be thereby defined among models representing different modules in a semantic theory of a modular software system. We exclude that scientific structuralism is able to define module relations needed in software modular theories. The algebraic Theory of Institutions is finally introduced to specify the logic structure of modular semantic theories of computational systems.

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