A trajectory-based strict semantics for program slicing

Danicic, Sebastian; Barraclough, Richard; Binkley, David; Harman, Mark; Hierons, Robert; Kiss, Ákos; Laurence, Michael and Ouarbya, Lahcen. 2010. A trajectory-based strict semantics for program slicing. Theoretical Computer Science, 411(11-13), pp. 1372-1386. ISSN 0304-3975 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

We define a program semantics that is preserved by dependence-based slicing algorithms. It is a natural extension, to non-terminating programs, of the semantics introduced by Weiser (which only considered terminating ones) and, as such, is an accurate characterisation of the semantic relationship between a program and the slice produced by these algorithms.

Unlike other approaches, apart from Weiser’s original one, it is based on strict standard semantics which models the ‘normal’ execution of programs on a von Neumann machine and, thus, has the advantage of being intuitive. This is essential since one of the main applications of slicing is program comprehension. Although our semantics handles non-termination, it is defined wholly in terms of finite trajectories, without having to resort to complex, counter-intuitive, non-standard models of computation. As well as being simpler, unlike other approaches to this problem, our semantics is substitutive. Substitutivity is an important property becauseit greatly enhances the ability to reason about correctness of meaning-preserving program transformations such as slicing.

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program slicing; program semantics; non-termination; program dependence

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Research Office > REF2014


6 March 2010Published


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Date Deposited:

10 Dec 2009 10:18

Last Modified:

20 Mar 2021 18:24

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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