Well, it's time to get back to posting regularly. I've been sort of meditating on where to go now for the last week or so. I've also been kind of busy, so I haven't gotten too much done to report on. Hopefully that will change this week.
I'm working on building a basic outline and expanding it into a real paper. I'm trying to see how FM can be used in small-scale business projects. To do that, I figure I need to examine at least four basic areas: cases where FM have been applied (preferably in non-safety-critical projects), the methods themselves, the tool support for those methods (which will be very important for use by non-experts), and the problem domain, i.e. business software. I'm working on breaking those down into their constituent issues now.
There are several things that concern me here. First, in the formal methods literature, the vast majority of case studies are safety- or security-critical applications. Despite claims of FM leading to lower total project cost, I have seen relatively few cases of serious FM being applied to projects where security and/or safety are not overriding concerns. Since this is precisely the area I'm interested in, it would be nice to have some more real-world (as opposed to academic) case studies to work with.
Another area of concern is tools. There still appears to be a dearth of formal methods tools. Also, it seems that most of the good ones are commercial products which I can't afford, so I obviously won't have any real experience to go on. And, of course, many if not most of the free tools kind of suck. However, I'll mainly be interested in tools for their existence and how they work, so it's not like I'll really be using them too much.
And speaking of tools, I finally got around to installing the Community Z Tools on my system. Honestly, they're not real impressive, but are better than nothing. Right now, it appears that all they have are a JEdit plug-in for editing specification, some export/conversion facilities, and a type checker. This would be fine, if not for the fact that it's such a big pain in the neck to install.
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