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*.

© created 1995/4/13 modified 1996/8/11