Advantages of Formal Specifications: A Case Study of Replication in Lotus Notes

  • Marc Bourgois
Part of the IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology book series (IFIPAICT)


We show the advantages of formal specifications for distributed systems. We avoid contrived toy examples. Instead we focus on object replication in Lotus Notes, a popular groupware product, for which an informal specification already exists.

We base our formal specification on higher-order multiset rewriting. Using this formalism, we detect an error in the original specification, eliminate redundant and overly restrictive data structures, and expose the natural parallelism of the replication algorithm.

As a result we end up with a specification of the replication algorithm which is “more correct”, leaner, and more widely usable. Indeed, the scope of the algorithm now includes parallel implementations, which may conceivably serve as the basis for highly available object servers on the Internet.


formal specifications multiset rewriting distributed algorithms Lotus Notes refinement and transformation of specifications. 


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Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marc Bourgois
    • 1
  1. 1.European Computer-Industry Research CenterMunichGermany

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