The transformational implementation of JSD process specifications via finite automata representation

  • Andrew P. Bass

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Conventional structured methods of software engineering are often based on the use of functional decomposition coupled with the Waterfall development process model. This approach is argued to be inadequate for coping with the evolutionary nature of large software systems. Alternative development paradigms, including the operational paradigm and the transformational paradigm, have been proposed to address the inadequacies of this conventional view of software developement, and these are reviewed. JSD is presented as an example of an operational approach to software engineering, and is contrasted with other well documented examples. The thesis shows how aspects of JSD can be characterised with reference to formal language theory and automata theory. In particular, it is noted that Jackson structure diagrams are equivalent to regular expressions and can be thought of as specifying corresponding finite automata. The thesis discusses the automatic transformation of structure diagrams into finite automata using an algorithm adapted from compiler theory, and then extends the technique to deal with areas of JSD which are not strictly formalisable in terms of regular languages. In particular, an elegant and novel method for dealing with so called recognition (or parsing) difficulties is described,. Various applications of the extended technique are described. They include a new method of automatically implementing the dismemberment transformation; an efficient way of implementing inversion in languages lacking a goto-statement; and a new in-the-large implementation strategy.
    Date of Award1992
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorBryan Ratcliff (Supervisor)


    • transformational implementation
    • JSD process specifications
    • finite automata representation
    • operational paradigm
    • Jackson system development (JSD)
    • computer-aided software engineering (CASE)

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