Anthony J H Simons, MA PhD

Senior Lecturer in Computer Science

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Department of Computer Science
Verification and Testing Research Group

PhD Research Opportunities

Here are some ideas for PhD projects that I would be prepared to supervise. If you're interested, email me. Further details of how to apply for a research degree can be found on the Department's main website.

ReMoDEL: Reusable Model Design Expression Languages

ReMoDeL: Reusable Model Design Language

Summary: This project brings together a number of different challenges in software engineering. Program-It-Yourself: PIY is the idea that, in future, business end-users should be able to specify the kinds of systems that they need, using domain-specific languages tailored to express their requirements directly. Scrap-Heap Challenge: SHC is the idea that, in future, software will be cannibalised from existing systems, but not at the code-level, rather at the model-level, from which new systems will be automatically generated. Self-Verification and Test: SVT is the idea that, in future, design models will be automatically checked for consistency and completeness and generated code will be automatically tested against specifications. This is an exciting new field! Follow links to the ReMoDEL website.

JWalk: Lazy Systematic Unit Testing

JWalk: Lazy Systematic Unit Testing

Summary: JWalk is a toolset that performs bounded exhaustive unit tests on compiled Java classes. So far, the tools discover the intended specification by a combination of run-time introspection, using the Java reflection API, and interaction with the programmer, to build up incremental specifications. There is scope to improve JWalk in several ways, including: adding annotations to supply algebraic design information; improving algorithms for state-space exploration; learning the algebraic specification by induction from oracle examples; generalising the JWalk approach to multi-class and system-level testing; integrating JWalk with other environments and Open Source projects. Follow links to the JWalk website.

The Discovery Method

The Discovery Method: Design Synthesis and Transformation

Summary: The Discovery Method is a complete systems analysis and design method for object-oriented systems, developed here at Sheffield. The method is known for its psychological reinforcement techniques (the so-called discovery procedures) used in requirements capture; and for its systematic design transformations that generate exemplars of recognised Design Patterns at the system level. Recent work on Discovery has concentrated on providing a complete formal semantics for the models used. Research opportunities include: extending the semantics of Tasks and Activity to State and Command design models; developing tools to support transformations from Task models to State and Command models; developing the integration of Task and Narrative models. A long-term goal is to provide a dedicated CASE tool for the Discovery Method. Follow links to the Discovery Method website.

The Poppy Object-Oriented Language

The Poppy Object-Oriented Language

Summary: The idea for this project grew out of my PhD thesis: A Language with Class: The Theory of Classification Exemplified in an Object-Oriented Language, University of Sheffield, 1996. It aims to design and implement a novel object-oriented programming language, whose treatment of class follows the theory of function-bounded polymorphism in the second-order (and higher-order) λ-calculus. However, the concrete syntax of Poppy will avoid the use of nested type parameters and will instead support systematic type substitution as a way of describing the evolution of closed recursive types under inheritance, and the specialisation of field-types that would normally be handled by parametric instantiation. One of the main challenges is to develop an incremental compiler, that is capable of making late binding optimisations. Follow links to the Poppy website.

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