Formal Notations

A notation is any way of representing or communicating information. This includes languages, internal computer data structures, file formats, and protocols for communications. Most notations are discrete, consisting of combinations of symbols drawn from some finite alphabet.

A notation is formal if it is discrete and its syntax (the rules for forming the notation) and semantics (rules for interpreting the notation) are sufficiently precisely defined to permit machine processing of the syntax in ways which respect the semantics. Most programming languages, most logics, and the standard representation of floating point numbers are formal notations. The English language is not.

Formal notations in this broad sense are much more pervasive than those formal specification languages or formal logics normally associated with formal methods.

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