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Software Engineering Journal

Issue 6 • Date Nov 1996

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Displaying Results 1 - 6 of 6
  • From logic to manuals

    Page(s): 347 - 354
    Save to Project icon | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (860 KB)  

    A simple language is demonstrated that combines specifications and manuals. This shows firstly that a user manual can be automatically reconstructed from a logic specification that is effectively identical to the original logic (up to ambiguities in natural language), and secondly that such an automated process can help detect errors. The process is fast and is suitable for use in participatory design View full abstract»

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  • Software Engineering Journal index

    Page(s): 367 - 377
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  • Extending the application of formal methods to analyse human error and system failure during accident investigations

    Page(s): 355 - 365
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    Recent disasters at Bhopal, Chernobyl, Habsheim and Kegworth illustrate the point that software is rarely the sole cause behind major accidents. Operator intervention, hardware faults, even the weather conditions and malicious acts all combine to create the conditions for failure. In the aftermath of these accidents, it seems difficult for software engineers, systems developers, forensic scientists and interface designers to predict all of the ways in which systems can fail. It is therefore important that we learn as much as possible from those failures that do occur. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to gain a coherent overview from the mass of detail that is typically contained in many accident reports. This makes it difficult for readers to identify the `catastrophic' events that produced the necessary conditions for the disaster, The paper argues that formal specification techniques can be used to resolve these problems. In particular, the temporal logic of actions (TLA) is used to build a unified account of the human errors and system failures that contributed to the Three Mile Island accident. This notation provides high-level abstractions that can be used to strip away the mass of irrelevant details that often obscures important events during disasters. Formal proof techniques can then be applied to the model as a means of identifying the causal relationships that must be broken in order to prevent future failures View full abstract»

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  • Modelling status and event behaviour of interactive systems

    Page(s): 334 - 346
    Save to Project icon | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (1436 KB)  

    Interactive systems involve both events, which occur at specific moments (e.g. keystrokes, mouse clicks and beeps), and more persistent “status phenomena”, which can be observed at any time (e.g. the position of the mouse or the image on the screen). Most formalisms used for interactive systems concentrate on one aspect or the other, and may be asymmetric in their treatment of input and output. Notations and models for interface specification are classified in this paper by the way they treat status and event phenomena in their input and output. This is used to construct a model and an associated notation which incorporates both. By specifying examples using this model, important design issues are highlighted which would be missed if either the status or the event phenomena were not properly treated View full abstract»

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  • Specifying user knowledge for the design of interactive systems

    Page(s): 323 - 333
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    Minimum requirements for interactive systems to be usable and reliable include computer systems performing as intended, and users not making errors in issuing commands or in interpreting information from the device display, Traditionally, most approaches to software engineering have focused on the first of these concerns: correctness of system performance. However, it is equally important to deal with the user concerns. An instruction language is presented for describing the knowledge a user needs to perform tasks with the device. The constraints provided by a semi-formal description language help the designer to identify possible mismatches between the system model and the user's model of that system. This type of mismatch is illustrated with an example taken from the design of the Macintosh desktop. If a further step is taken, formalising that description and adding principles about users' cognitive processes, inferences may also be made about possible user errors. This is illustrated with an example taken from the design of a mail tool. The instruction language and associated principles provide a means of evaluating a system design in relation to user knowledge prior to implementation View full abstract»

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