Understanding Software through Linguistic Abstraction

October 09, 2013

Paul Klint

On the occasion of Paul Klint’s retirement, I wrote a small essay about the role of linguistic abstraction in understanding software. The paper should be published in an upcoming special issue of Science of Computer Programming. A pre-print is available as TUD-SERG technical report

Abstract: In this essay, I argue that linguistic abstraction should be used systematically as a tool to capture our emerging understanding of domains of computation. Moreover, to enable that systematic application, we need to capture our understanding of the domain of linguistic abstraction itself in higher-level meta languages. The argument is illustrated with examples from the SDF, Stratego, Spoofax, and WebDSL projects in which I explore these ideas.