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Program development by stepwise refinement

By Niklaus Wirth

Communications of the ACM, Vol. 26 No. 1, Pages 70-74

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The creative activity of programming—to be distinguished from coding—is usually taught by examples serving to exhibit certain techniques. It is here considered as a sequence of design decisions concerning the decomposition of tasks into subtasks and of data into data structures. The process of successive refinement of specifications is illustrated by a short but nontrivial example, from which a number of conclusions are drawn regarding the art and the instruction of programming.

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