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From: John Knight < >

Date: Sat, 15 Feb 2014 10:02:04 -0500

The System Safety Mailing List

systemsafety_at_xxxxxx Received on Sat Feb 15 2014 - 16:02:22 CET

Date: Sat, 15 Feb 2014 10:02:04 -0500

On 2/15/14, 5:52 AM, Peter Bernard Ladkin wrote:

> I have started to contact people who are likely to feel similarly about the importance of skills > with FDLs and in particular with applied logic in informatics as I do. I'd be grateful for any > material - stories, opinions, observations about curricula, about software engineering practice, and > so forth - which you may be able to convey.

In the interest of full disclosure, I note that I teach the discrete mathematics course to second-year students at the University of Virginia. The course is required for computer science and computer engineering majors.

In my opinion, the situation is as follows:

- To a very large extent, all software is critical in some way. Even gaming software, the failure of which could lead to loss of reputation, market, income, etc.
- All of engineering rests to some extent on mathematics.
- Discrete mathematics (the term I would use where you have used logic) is the mathematics of computer engineering.
- We will not make progress against the serious assurance challenges we face unless we apply mathematics.
- All computer engineers should be trained to understand, appreciate and apply discrete mathematics.

How does one integrate discrete mathematics into the undergraduate curricula? Here is the way I do it:

- I define a problem that the students can easily understand first, and then I show how some aspect of discrete mathematics can solve it.
- A major problem I use is specification. I use specification to motivate sets, propositions, predicates, relations, functions, etc. For each topic I state bits of specification as examples.
- I bring all this together by introducing a declarative language based on discrete mathematics, Z, and show the students both how easy and how effective such languages are.
- At various points I note that such formal techniques will help the students make money (because formal techniques are valuable) and help keep them out of court (because formal techniques are the state of the art).

If anybody on this list would like my course materials for educational, non-commercial use, just send me an e-mail.

- John

The System Safety Mailing List

systemsafety_at_xxxxxx Received on Sat Feb 15 2014 - 16:02:22 CET

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