An Introduction to Denotational Semantics

  • Ernest G. Manes
  • Michael A. Arbib
Part of the Texts and Monographs in Computer Science book series (MCS)


To specify a programming language we must specify its syntax and semantics. The syntax of a programming language specifies which strings of symbols constitute valid programs. A formal description of the syntax typically involves a precise specification of the alphabet of allowable symbols and a finite set of rules delineating how symbols may be grouped into expressions, instructions, and programs. Most compilers for programming languages are implemented with syntax checking whereby the first stage in compiling a program is to check its text to see if it is syntactically valid. In practice, syntax must be described at two levels, for a human user through programming manuals and as a syntax-checking algorithm within a compiler or interpreter.


Programming Language Inductive Step Atomic Function Partial Function Operational Semantic 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Notes and References for Chapter 1

  1. K. Jensen and N. Wirth, PASCAL Users Manual and Report, Springer-Verlag, 1974Google Scholar
  2. J. Stoy, , Denotational Semantics: The Scott-Strachey Approach to Programming Language Theory, MIT Press, 1979Google Scholar
  3. R. Floyd, “Assigning meanings to programs,” in Mathematical Aspects of Computer Science, American Mathematical Society, 1967, pp. 19–32Google Scholar
  4. C. A. R. Hoare “An axiomatic basis for computer programming, ” Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery, 12, 1969, pp. 576–580, 583.Google Scholar
  5. S. Alagić and M. A. Arbib, The Design of Well-Structured and Correct Programs, Springer-Verlag, 1977.Google Scholar
  6. Backus’ Turing Award Lecture is published in Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery, 21, 1978, pp. 613–641.Google Scholar
  7. A. J. Kfoury, R. N. Moll, and M. A. Arbib, A Programming Approach to Computability, Springer-Verlag, 1982.Google Scholar
  8. N. Jacobson, Lectures in Abstract Algebra, Van Nostrand, 1951, pp. 20–21.Google Scholar
  9. E.J. Dijkstra, A Discipline of Programming, Prentice-Hall, 1977.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ernest G. Manes
    • 1
  • Michael A. Arbib
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Mathematics and StatisticsUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA
  2. 2.Departments of Computer Science, Neurobiology and PhysiologyUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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