Inspection Methods in Programming.
MASSACHUSETTS INST OF TECH CAMBRIDGE ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE LAB
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The work reported here lies in the area of overlap between artificial intelligence and software engineering. As research in artificial intelligence, it is a step towards a model of problem solving in the domain of programming. In particular, this work focuses on the routine aspects of programming which involve the application of previous experience with similar programs. I call this programming by inspection. Programming is viewed here as a kind of engineering activity. Analysis and synthesis by inspection are a prominent part of expert problem solving in many other engineering disciplines, such as electrical and mechanical engineering. The notion of inspection methods in programming developed in this work is motivated by similar notions in other areas of engineering. This report concentrates on the knowledge base of the programmers apprentice, which is in the form of a taxonomy of commonly used algorithms and data structures. To the extent that a programmer is able to construct and manipulate programs in terms of the forms in such a taxonomy, he may relieve himself of many details and generally raise the conceptual level of his interaction with the system, as compared with present day programming environments. Also, since it is practical to expend a great deal of effort pre-analyzing the entries in a library, the difficulty of verifying the correctness of programs constructed this way is correspondingly reduced. The feasibility of this approach is demonstrated by the design of an initial library of common techniques for manipulating symbolic data.
- Computer Programming and Software