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Predicate Logic for Software Engineering. David Lorge Parnas McMaster University, Ontario, Canada. Presentation for SwE Readings Class. By: Sridhar Pentapati. About Dave Parnas.

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predicate logic for software engineering

Predicate Logic for Software Engineering

David Lorge Parnas

McMaster University, Ontario, Canada

about dave parnas
About Dave Parnas
  • His insights have changed the way that we specify, design, document, build, and maintain software
  • His techniques have changed modern programming languages
  • His wisdom has steered software engineering field

Progress in a scientific discipline can be measured by how quickly its founders are forgotten


Conventional interpretations of expressions that describe predicates are not suitable for use in software engineering because they do not deal with partial functions. Parnas’ team defines an interpretation for predicate expressions that is suitable for use in software documentation

Logic is in the eye of the logician. *Gloria Steinem

  • Predicate logic is a development of propositional logic, which we’re all well acquainted with
  • Sentences in predicate calculus are built up from atomic sentences

'Contrariwise', continued Tweedledee, 'if it was so, it might be, and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic!' . *Lewis Carroll

introduction contd
Introduction contd...
  • Why logic in SwE?
    • Engineers need mathematical tools
      • for the description and analysis of their products
    • Mathematical logic is the basis of all proposed tools
      • A solid foundation of logic notation will be essential for anyone who hopes to be recognized as a software engineer

Predicate Logic For Software Engineering

introduction contd7
Introduction Contd...
  • Focus
    • It is essential to have a precise meanings for logical expressions, one that unambiguously yields a value of true or false for every statement of values to the variables that appear in an expression

Logic is one thing, the human animal another. You can quite easily propose a logical solution to something and at the same time hope in your heart of hearts it won't work out. * Luigi Pirandello

problems with existing logic
Problems with Existing Logic
  • Logicians are conservative? Believes Martin Van Emden
  • Lacks precise meaning for logical expression (* values)
  • Complexity of expressions
  • Assumption of total functions

Logic: The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding. *Ambrose Bierce

parnas says
Parnas Says:
  • Change predicate logic to allow functions to be partial
  • To do away with the resulting truth value “undefined”

The want of logic annoys. Too much logic bores. Life eludes logic, and everything that logic alone constructs remains artificial and forced. * André Gide

structure of the paper
Structure of The Paper
  • Introduction
  • Basic definitions
  • Syntax of Logic Expressions
  • Meanings of Logical Expressions
  • Examples of the Use of This Logic in Software Documentation
  • Conclusions
  • References

Predicate Logic For Software Engineering

reasons and goal
Reasons and Goal
  • Since practitioners do not want to use methods that require them to use many symbols to say simple things
  • They will not read expressions that are lengthy or deeply nested
  • A full, formal definition of a logic that permits concise expressions is a prerequisite for practical use

The fact that logic cannot satisfy us awakens an almost insatiable hunger for the irrational. * A. N. Wilson

introduction contd12
Introduction contd…
  • In one of his earlier papers’ Parnas reminded us that
    • functions and relations can be viewed as sets of ordered pairs,
    • sets can be characterized by predicates and described by logical expressions,
    • predicates can be represented in more readable way using multidimensional expressions, and
    • the meaning of these tables can be defined by rules for translating those tables into more conventional expressions

Predicate Logic For Software Engineering

introduction contd13
Introduction Contd…
  • Many researchers are developing mathematical methods for use by software developers. It is hoped that these methods would do for SwE, what differential and integral calculus did for other areas of engineering

From a drop of water a logician could infer the possibility of an Atlantic or a Niagara without having seen or heard of one or the other. * Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

introduction contd crux of the problem
Introduction contd…Crux of the problem
  • Conventional formal interpretations of logical expressions (e.g. [Mendelson]) assume that all functions are total, i.e. defined on a domain that includes all possible values of their arguments
  • Those interpretations are not intended to deal with partial functions, functions whose value has not been defined for certain values of the argument

Predicate Logic For Software Engineering

  • A partial function ƒ from a set A to a set B is an assignment to each element a in a subset of A, called the domain of definition of ƒ, of a unique element b in B
  • The sets A and B are called the domain and codomain of ƒ, respectively

Predicate Logic For Software Engineering

basics contd
Basics Contd…
  • We say that ƒ is undefined for elements in A that are not in the domain of definition of ƒ
  • We write ƒ : A  B to denote that ƒ is a partial function from A to B
  • When the domain of definitions equals A, we say that ƒ is a total function

Logic is like the sword--those who appeal to it, shall perish by it. * Samuel Butler

another interpretation of predicate expressions
Another interpretation of Predicate Expressions!!!
  • But why?
    • Since under conventional interpretations a logical expression that includes partial functions will have a defined value only when the values assigned to all function arguments are within functions’ domains. Such interpretations are of limited usefulness when describing software because we frequently use partial functions to describe the behavior of programs

Predicate Logic For Software Engineering

motivating example
Motivating Example
  • Assume that  represents a function that is defined on a domain containing only non-negative real numbers. A s/w designer may write a boolean expression such as:

((x > 0)  (y = x))  ((x  0)  (y = -x)) (1)

to describe the behavior of a computer program

Predicate Logic For Software Engineering


The writer’s intent seems to be to write an expression that is equivalent to: y = |x| (2)the usual rules for evaluating such expressions require evaluation of all of the functions and relational operators before application of the logical operators to the truth-values that result. For every value of x other than 0, some component of expression (1) is undefined. With the standard interpretation of logical operators, which are defined only for two-value logics, the value of (1) is not defined except when x is assigned the value 0

Predicate Logic For Software Engineering

comparison with other work
Comparison with Other Work
  • There is a huge and complex literature on the subject of logic with partial functions
  • This paper presents a specific proposal and its illustrated use
  • Confined to software engineering
  • Dijsktra’s cand
  • The interpretation for predicate expressions proposed here neither specifies the order of evaluation nor introduces new symbols into logic

Predicate Logic For Software Engineering

basic definitions
Basic Definitions
  • Predicate – A predicate is a characteristic or attribute or property that the subject of the statement can have
    • “No lawyers are shysters ”

A function that returns true or false. Conceptually it tests for a condition

The property that a bird is an eagle can be expressed by the predicate:

    • eagle(x)
      • This predicate holds for all birds x which are eagles. For other birds, the predicate is false

Predicate Logic For Software Engineering

propositional logic
Propositional Logic
  • Proposition: A proposition  is a statement that is either true or false, but not both
    • Washington, D.C., is the capital of the United States of America
    • 2 + 2 = 3

Proposition 1 is true, whereas 2 is false

  • More complex propositions can be formed by applying the logical operators (¬, , , etc..)
  • Propositional logic formula
    • Eg. ((p  q) ¬c)

Predicate Logic For Software Engineering

predicate logic
Predicate Logic
  • Predicate logic allows us to represent fairly complex facts about the world, and to derive new facts in a way that guarantees that, if the initial facts were true then so are the conclusions. It is a well understood formal language, with well-defined syntax, semantics and rules of inference

Predicate Logic For Software Engineering

predicate logic contd
Predicate Logic contd…
  • Predicate logic is obtained by extending propositional logic by using:
    • Predicates
    • Variables
    • Quantifiers

Predicate Logic For Software Engineering

  • Two types of Quantification:
    • Universal quantification
        • x P(x) - P(x) is true for every x
    • Existential quantification
        • x P(x) – There is an x for which P(x) is true

Predicate Logic For Software Engineering

  • A tuple is an ordered list of one or more simple tuples
    •      U = {true, false}
    •      Simple n-tuple
    • –   Ordered list of n members of U
    • Eg. <true, false, true, false>
    •    n-tuple
    • –   Ordered list of n simple tuples

Eg. <<true, false>, true, false>

You can only find truth with logic if you have already found truth without it

tuples contd
Tuples Contd…
  • When representing specific tuples, we separate the elements with commas and enclose tuples in <brackets> to make their structure clear
    • E.G. <True, false, true, false> represents a simple 4-tuple and <<true, false>, true, false> represents a 3-tuple that is not a simple 3-tuple
    • Sk is the set of all simple k-tuples: S1 is U. S is the union of S1, S2,…,Su ; u is the length of the longest tuple needed to apply the semantic model developed below
    • Tk is the set of all k-tuples. T1 is S. Tk includes Sk . T is the union of T1, T2, …, Tu

Predicate Logic For Software Engineering

relations functions
Relations, Functions
  • Binary relations represent relationships between the elements of two sets
  • Relations could be from one-to-many, whereas functions can’t be from one-to-many

Predicate Logic For Software Engineering

functions and characteristic predicate
Functions and Characteristic Predicate
  • We refer to two types:
    • Partial functions: functions whose domain is a proper subset of S
    • Total functions: functions whose domain includes all the members of S
  • Characteristic predicate:
    • For any set of simple tuples, X, the characteristic predicate of that set is a predicate whose domain is S, and whose value, for a simple tuple b, is true if and only if b is a member of X

Predicate Logic For Software Engineering

the syntax of logical expressions
The Syntax of Logical Expressions
  • Built-in functions and Predicates:
    • the strings f1, ………., fk are the names of functions
      • View functions as set of pairs
    • R1, …….., Rm are the names of characterizing sets of simple tuples
      • View predicates as characterizing sets of simple tuples

Predicate Logic For Software Engineering

syntax contd
Syntax contd…
  • Terms:
    • A function application is a string of the form fj(V). Nothing else is a function
    • A term is either a member of U, a variable, or a function application. Nothing else is a term

Predicate Logic For Software Engineering

syntax contd32
Syntax contd…
  • Primitive Expressions:
    • Primitive Expression is a string of the form Rj(V)
      • Rj is a characteristic predicate
      • V is comma separated list of terms (called arguments)

Predicate Logic For Software Engineering

syntax contd33
Syntax contd…
  • Predicate Expressions
    • All primitive expressions are predicate expressions.
    • If P, Q: predicate expressions, x: variable, then following are also predicate expressions:

(x , P), (P), (P)  (Q), (P)  (Q), ¬(P)

There can never be surprises in logic

the meaning of logical expressions
The Meaning of Logical Expressions
  • Denotation
    • each predicate expression is denoted as a set
    • subset of Su, where u is the number of variables that may appear in the expressions whose meaning is defined.
  • Assignment
    • simple u-tuple

The mind has its own logic but does not often let others in on it. *Bernard Devoto

meaning contd
Meaning contd…
  • Evaluating terms for a given assignment:

Mapping val for a term, t, and assignment, A:

    • If t is a constant representing t’, val(t, A) is t’
    • If t is a variable, xk, val(t, A) is the kth element of the assignment A
    • If t is a function application, ƒk(V), let
      • n be the length of V,
      • if V’ is in the domain of ƒk, val(t, A) is ƒk(V’)
      • if V’ is not in the domain of ƒk, val(t, A) is *

Predicate Logic For Software Engineering

meaning contd36
Meaning contd…
  • Evaluating primitive expressions for a given assignment:
    • For a primitive expression Rj(V), and assignment A
      • Let Xj be the set of simple tuples characterized by Rj
      • n be the length of V,
      • Vi be the ith element of V, and V’ be simple tuple
        • If V’ is in Xj, tval(Rj(V), A) is true
        • If V’ is not in Xj, tval(Rj(V), A) is false

Predicate Logic For Software Engineering

meaning contd37
Meaning contd…
  • The denotation of primitive expressions:
    • tval(p, A) is true
  • The denotation of predicate expressions:
    • If P and Q are predicate expressions:
      • (xk , P), is the set of all assignments, A,  if c is any value in U, A[k  c] is in the denotation of P
      • (P)  (Q) is the union of P and Q
      • (P)  (Q) is the intersection of P and Q, and
      • ¬(P) is the set of all members of Su that are not in P

Predicate Logic For Software Engineering

meaning contd38
Meaning contd…
  • Satisfaction of an expression
    • Expressions that denote empty set are said to be false
    • Expressions that denote all of Su are said to be true
    • An expression, e, is said to be satisfied by an assignment, A, if A is a member of the denotation of e

Logic is a poor guide compared with custom. *Winston Churchill

meaning contd39
Meaning contd…
  • Notational conveniences:
    • Specify values for some and not for others
      • e.g. A list such as “x2 : x24” represents all assignments in which the second element is 4 and the 24th element is 96

Man has such a predilection for systems and abstract deductions that he is ready to distort the truth intentionally, he is ready to deny the evidence of his senses only to justify his logic. * Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky

use in documentation
Use in Documentation
  • Palindrome
  • (i, 0 ≤ I < n  (B[l+i]=B[l+n-1-i]))
    • This expression gives the desired results even though the implication is evaluated outside the domain of B; the domain is characterized by the left-hand implication

Logic, like whiskey, loses its beneficial effect when taken in very large quantities. * Lord Dunsany


Use in Documentation

Relational description of a program that searches B for the value of x

use in documentation contd
Use in Documentation contd…
  • (i, B[i] = C[i])
    • Here we are looking for matching elements in two arrays
    • When the value of i is outside the index set of either B or C, the value of B[i] = C[i] is false
    • This is the logic which has been basically presented in this paper

Predicate Logic For Software Engineering

  • Not necessary to introduce either a third variable or conditional operators in order to deal with partial functions
  • Not only is the “motivating example”, eq (1), fully defined using the set-theoretic operations but also greatly simplified:

(y = x)  (y = -x)

Predicate Logic For Software Engineering

conclusions contd
Conclusions contd…
  • Compact readable formulation is crucial
  • Easier to comprehend
  • Drawbacks with some complementary predicates – price for allowing partial functions
    • x > y would not denote the complement x ≤ y. both evaluate to false if either x or y is assigned negative value
    • a = a cannot be assigned a value of true if U includes negative values

A mind all logic is like a knife all blade. It makes the hand bleed that uses it. *Rabindranath Tagore

conclusions contd45
Conclusions contd…
  • The properties of the functions used should be stated precisely
  • Axiom of reflection does not hold in this interpretation
  • Simplification is obtained by making primitive predicates evaluate to false whenever one or more of their arguments are undefined

Logic is the art of going wrong with confidence

conclusions contd46
Conclusions contd…

Parnas believes that these are proper

decisions because:

  • Keeping logic simple is essential to practical application
  • The assigned meanings are consistent with intuitive interpretations, and
  • The formulae that results are relatively simple for cases arising frequently

Predicate Logic For Software Engineering

questions and suggestions
Questions And Suggestions!!!!!!!

Predicate Logic For Software Engineering

  • Discrete Mathematics and Its Applications

- Kenneth Rosen, Fourth Edition

  • Software Fundamentals

- Collected Papers by David L. Parnas

Predicate Logic For Software Engineering