Formal Semantics for Java-like Languages and Research Opportunities

Published in Revista de Informática Teórica e Aplicada, 2018

Currently, Java is one of the most used programming languages, being adopted in many large projects, where applications reach a level of complexity for which manual testing and human inspection are not enough to guarantee quality in software development. Because of that, there is a growing research field that concerns the formalization of small subsets of Java-like languages aimed to conduct studies that were impossible to achieve through informal approaches. In this context, the objective of this paper is twofold: the discussion of the state-of-the-art on Java-like semantics and the presentation of research opportunities in this area. For the first goal, we present a research about Java-like formal semantics, filtering those that provide some insights in type-safety proofs, choosing the four most cited projects to be presented in details. We also briefly present some related studies that extended the originals aggregating useful features. Additionally, we provide a comparison between the most cited projects in order to show which functionalities are covered by each one of them. As for the second goal, we discuss possible future studies that can be performed by using the presented formal semantics.

Download paper here