The University of Edinburgh -
Division of Informatics
Forrest Hill & 80 South Bridge

PhD Thesis #9027

Title:A Theory of Abstraction
Date: 1990
Abstract:Abstraction is the process of mapping one representation of a problem onto a simpler, more abstract representation; the abstract solution can then be used to guide the search for a solution to the original, more complex problem. By providing a global control of the search, abstraction can greatly improve our problem solving ability. Unfortunately, the use of abstraction has in general lacked sound and theoretical foundations causing many problems. This thesis therefore proposes a general purpose theory of abstraction. We use this theory to classify the various types of abstraction, to investigate their formal properties, to analyse and criticise previous work in abstraction, to find methods for building abstractions automatically, and to explore how to use abstractions.

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