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Durham e-Theses
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Software maintenance by program transformation in a wide spectrum language

Bull, Tim (1994) Software maintenance by program transformation in a wide spectrum language. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis addresses the software maintenance problem of extracting high-level designs from code. The investigated solution is to use a mathematically-based formal program transformation system. The resulting tool, the Maintainer's Assistant, is based on Ward's [177] WSL (wide spectrum language) and method of proving program equivalence. The problems addressed include: how to reverse engineer from code alone (the only reliable source of information about a program [158]), how to express program transformations within the system, what kinds of transformations should be incorporated, how to make the tool simple to use, how to perform abstraction and how to create a tool suitable for use with large programs. Using the Maintainer's Assistant, the program code is automatically translated into WSL and the transformations, although tested for valid applicability by the system, are interactively applied by the user. Notable features include a mathematical simplifier, a large flexible transformation catalogue and, significantly, the use of an extension of WSL, A4etaWSL, for representing the transformations. MetaWSL expands WSL by incorporating a variety of extensions, including: program editing statements, pattern matching and template filling functions, symbolic mathematics and logic functions, statements for moving within the program’s syntax tree and statements for repeating an operation at each node of the tree. Using MetaWSL, 80% of the 601 transformations can be expressed in less than 20 program statements. The Maintainer's Assistant has been used on a wide variety of examples of up to several thousand lines, including commercial software written in IBM 370 assembler. It has been possible to transform initially unstructured programs into a hierarchy of procedures, facilitating subsequent design recovery. These results show that program transformation is a viable method of renovating old (370 assembler) code in a cost elective way, and that MetaWSL provides an effective basis for clearly and concisely expressing the required transformations.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:1994
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:24 Oct 2012 15:14

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