“Really rethinking formal methods”. David Parnas.

IEEE Computer, 43 (1), January 2010

This provocative article challenges accepted academic thinking of formal methods and suggests that the current approach to formal methods has been a complete failure and that our whole notion of formal methods of software engineering needs to be rethought. Parnas proposes a relational approach and sets out problems and issues that have to be addressed before formal methods can be practically useful for software development.

Parnas sometimes over-states his case when he is trying to make a point and this paper is no different – formal methods and those who believe in them are not as bad as he suggests. However, I basically agree with most of what he has to say here – most of us who wanted formal methods to become mainstream have been disappointed and there is no point in thinking that this avenue of research will be significantly more fruitful in future.

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