Informatics, TU Vienna

Precise Software Documentation

Part II

The Distributed Systems Group of the Information Systems Institute invites to the following guest lecture:



Module Interface Documentation with TFM

The Trace Function Method (TFM) for documenting (both describing and specifying) interfaces for information hiding modules and components is described. We begin by explaining the motivation for the method. The concepts of event, event descriptor, and trace are defined. Basic functions on event descriptors and traces are introduced. Finally, the method is illustrated on some simple examples.

Document driven inspection and testing

Software has a well‐earned terrible reputation. Over the years, many experts have said that they would not trust software for safety‐critical tasks. Others have claimed that, at least in practice, it is impossible to get correct software. They have claimed that inspecting and testing cannot be used to find all the errors, only to estimate the number remaining. There is no theoretical basis for such assertions but they seem consistent with empirical observations. This lecture discusses quality assurance procedures that were developed, and proven effective, in the approval process of safety‐critical software for a nuclear power plant in Ontario, Canada. Their novel feature is their use of highly structured, precise (mathematical) design documentation.


Dr David Lorge Parnas has been studying industrial software development since 1969. Many of his papers have been found to have lasting value. For example, a paper written 25 years ago, based on a study of avionics software, was recently awarded a SIGSOFT IMPACT award. Parnas has won more than 20 awards for his contributions. In 2007, Parnas was proud to share the IEEE Computer Society's one-time sixtieth anniversary award with computer pioneer Professor Maurice Wilkes of Cambridge University. Parnas received his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, and honorary doctorates from the ETH in Zurich (Switzerland), the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium), and the University of Italian Switzerland (Lugano). He is licensed as a Professional Engineer in Ontario.

Parnas is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (RSC), the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the Canadian Academy of Engineering (CAE), the Gesellschaft für Informatik (GI) in Germany and the IEEE. He is a Member of the Royal Irish Academy. Parnas is the author of more than 270 papers and reports. Many have been repeatedly republished and are considered classics. A collection of his papers can be found in: Hoffman, D.M., Weiss, D.M. (eds.), "*/Software Fundamentals: Collected Papers by David L. Parnas/*", Addison-Wesley, 2001, 664 pgs., ISBN 0-201-70369-6. Dr. Parnas is Professor Emeritus at McMaster University in Hamilton Canada,and at the University of Limerick Ireland and an Honorary Professor at Ji Lin University in China. He is President of Middle Road Software.