Excerpt from From Prototype to Efficient Implementation: A Case Study Using Setl and C
This paper reports on an ongoing experiment in the use of very high level languages (vhlls) for software design and prototyping (see Bul] for a recent survey of the practice of Software Prototyping). The work of the nyuada group revolves around the use of setl, a vhll whose most salient feature is the use of constructs taken from the mathematical theory of sets. Using setl, our group was able to construct the first validated translator for Ada(R). The first ada/ed system, validated in April 1983, was intended to serve as an operational definition of Ada and as a very abstract design for an Ada compiler, and as such was no more than an executable definition. (and barely executable at that: a few source lines of Ada per second of cpu time on a vax/780). Ada/ed proved nevertheless to be a useful teaching tool, and an excellent testbed for the use of vhlls in software prototyping; thanks to theexclusive use of setl, it proved possible to construct a full translator for Ada in about 16 person-years, within a typically unstructured academic environment, without any rigorous Software Engineering procedures, and no design documents other than the program itself [kri]. It must be added that roughly half of those 16 years were spent in tracking language changes between preliminary Ada and ansi Ada, a period in which the prototype did indeed evolve with shifting requirements!
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