Maude as a Formal Meta-Tool

Manuel Clavel, Francisco Durán, Steven Eker, José Meseguer, and Mark-Oliver Stehr

Given the different perspectives from which a complex software system has to be analyzed, the multiplicity of formalisms is in some sense unavoidable. This poses two important technical challenges: how to rigorously meet the need to inter-relate formalisms, and how to reduce the duplication of effort in tool and specification building across formalisms. These challenges could be answered by adequate formal meta-tools that, when given the specification of a formal inference system, generate an efficient inference engine, and when given a specification of two formalism and a translation, generate an actual translator between them. Similarly, module composition operations that are logic-independent, but that at present require costly implementation efforts for each formalism could be provided for logics in general by module algebra generator meta-tools. The foundations of meta-tools of this kind can be based on a meta-theory of general logics. Their actual design and implementation can be based on appropriate logical frameworks having efficient implementations. This paper explains how the reflective logical framework of rewriting logic can be used, in conjunction with an efficient reflective implementation such as the Maude language, to design formal meta-tools such as those described above. The feasibility of these ideas and techniques has been demonstrated by a number of substantial experiments in which new formal tools and new translations between formalisms, efficient enough to be used in practice, have been generated.

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