Teaching Formal Methods

Volume 5846 of the series Lecture Notes in Computer Science pp 39-56

Which Mathematics for the Information Society?

  • João F. FerreiraAffiliated withSchool of Computer Science, University of Nottingham
  • , Alexandra MendesAffiliated withSchool of Computer Science, University of Nottingham
  • , Roland BackhouseAffiliated withSchool of Computer Science, University of Nottingham
  • , Luís S. BarbosaAffiliated withCCTC & Dep. Informatics, Minho University

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MathIS is a new project that aims to reinvigorate secondary-school mathematics by exploiting insights of the dynamics of algorithmic problem solving. This paper describes the main ideas that underpin the project. In summary, we propose a central role for formal logic, the development of a calculational style of reasoning, the emphasis on the algorithmic nature of mathematics, and the promotion of self-discovery by the students. These ideas are discussed and the case is made, through a number of examples that show the teaching style that we want to introduce, for their relevance in shaping mathematics training for the years to come. In our opinion, the education of software engineers that work effectively with formal methods and mathematical abstractions should start before university and would benefit from the ideas discussed here.