Explain Axiomatic Specification

In axiomatic specification of a system, first-order logic is used to write the pre and post-conditions to specify the operations of the system in the form of axioms. The pre-conditions basically capture the conditions that must be satisfied before an operation can successfully be invoked. In essence, the pre-conditions capture the requirements on the input parameters of a function. The post-conditions are the conditions that must be satisfied when a function completes execution for the function to be considered to have executed successfully. Thus, the post-conditions are essentially constraints on the results produced for the function execution to be considered successful The following are the sequence of steps that can be followed to systematically develop the axiomatic specifications of a function:

  • Establish the range of input values over which the function should behave correctly. Also find out other constraints on the input parameters and write it in the form of a predicate.
  • Specify a predicate defining the conditions which must hold on the output of the function if it behaved properly.
  • Establish the changes made to the function’s input parameters after execution of the function. Pure mathematical functions do not change their input and therefore this type of assertion is not necessary for pure functions.
  • Combine all of the above into pre and post conditions of the function.

Example1: – Specify the pre- and post-conditions of a function that takes a real number as argument and returns half the input value if the input is less than or equal to 100, or else returns double the value.

f (x : real) : real pre : x ∈ R post : {(x≤100) ∧ (f(x) = x/2)} ∨ {(x>100) ∧ (f(x) = 2∗x)}

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