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Seven More Myths of Formal Methods
July 1995 (vol. 12 no. 4)
pp. 34-41
In 1990, Anthony Hall published a seminal article that listed and dispelled seven myths about the nature and application of formal methods. Today -- five years and many successful applications later -- formal methods remain one of the most contentious areas of software-engineering practice.

Despite 25 years of use, few people understand exactly what formal methods are or how they are applied. Many nonformalists seem to believe that formal methods are merely an academic exercise -- a form of mental masturbation that has no relation to real-world problems. The media's portrayal of formal methods does little to help the situation. In many "popular press" science journals, formal methods are subjected to either deep criticism or, worse, extreme hyperbole. Fortunately, today these myths are held more by the public and the computer-science community at large than by system developers. It is our concern, however, that new myths are being propagated, and more alarmingly, are receiving a certain tacit acceptance from the system-development community.

Following Hall's lead, we address and dispel seven new myths about formal methods: Formal methods delay the development process; formal methods lack tools; formal methods replace traditional engineering design methods; formal methods only apply to software; formal methods are unnecessary; formal methods are not supported; and formal-methods people always use formal methods.

Citation:
Jonathan P. Bowen, Michael G. Hinchey, "Seven More Myths of Formal Methods," IEEE Software, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 34-41, July 1995, doi:10.1109/52.391826
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