Advances in Computers, Vol. 15 by Morris Rubinoff, Marshall C. Yovits

By Morris Rubinoff, Marshall C. Yovits

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3. 1 Introduction Many a programmer has wished for a system that, would read in a few examples of the desired program behavior and automatically create that program. Thus, such a system might be given the input-output pairs (1,2), (2,3), (3,5), (4,7), (5, 11) andbeexpectedtoprintout aprogram that reads an integer i and prints the ith prime number. It is quite possible that the program to be constructed would be adequately defined by a relatively few such examples, so that the user of such a synthesizer would have an easy job.

The next section explains this process in much more detail. The satisfactory completion of, Step I involves considerable dif6culties, which continue to be a subject for research. First of all, the discovery of acceptable sequences Si can involve an astronomical amount of enumeration. Also, there may be many sequences S i that convert Xi to Yi and a method must be found for discovering which sequence to use for each i. The large amount of enumeration can be reduced by discovering pruning techniques applicable to the specific problem domain and by limiting the class of programs that may be synthesized.

Such systems in their current form are also not necessarily easy to use because formal logic notation is not particularly easy or natural for humans. However, if a system is ever to exist that constructs programs on the basis of behavioral specifications rather than program structural specifications, one might suspect that it will be based on techniques like these. 5. 1 Introduction One of the ultimate conveniences one could hope for in an automatic programming system would be the ability to converse with it in natural language.

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