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008 - Definitions for the specification of educational software

Introduction

This brief paper outlines a novel approach to the problem of achieving greater portability of educational software. It is primarily concerned with exploring a method of describing such software at a high level of abstraction in a way that can assist its implementation on different machines, and in different environments and programming languages. Following the best contemporary practice in commercial software development, our approach emphasises abstract very high-level specification, and may be contrasted with approaches that focus upon prescribing standards for software and hardware, and on developing translation tools to ameliorate specific problems concerning incompatible machine codes and capabilities. The portability problem we address is not of course co ned to educational software, but the novel ideas we intend to apply are particularly promising in that context. To be more specific, our methods are probably best-suited for "specification of relatively small programs for user-centred abstraction and portability" rather than "specification of large programs for automatic verification".

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