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Communications of the ACM

Communications of the ACM

Derived semantics for some programming language constructs

The constructs of a simple programming language are introduced and described informally in terms of values and side-effects. A translator is defined which translates the language into flowcharts for a simple machine. The action of the machine in executing a flowchart is defined. A proof is constructed that the effect of translating and executing any program can be expressed solely in terms of the value and side-effect of the program. During the course of constructing the proof, formal definitions of the concepts of value and side-effect are derived in order to make the proof rigorous. Correctness of the implementation involves checking that the definitions derived in the step above are an acceptable formalization of the informal description given in the first step.

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