## Evaluating Generalized Tabular Expressions in Software Documentation

Ms. Ruth Abraham

Software Engineering Research Group

CRL, McMaster University,

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8S 4K1

### Abstract

This thesis presents a generalized model of tabular expressions used in software
documentation, and describes how this model has been applied to build a tool
that evaluates a broad class of expressions. Tabular notation is used in
software documentation to improve the readability of complex mathematical
relations [12]. By making expressions easier to parse and removing many of the
common sub-expressions, tabular representations make the use of mathematics
practical for the description of computer systems. Many different forms of
tabular notation are in use, but instead of providing a separate semantics for
each, this thesis presents a general table model that encompasses many different
types of tables. Within this model, a tabular expression may be identified as
either a normal table, an inverted table, a vector table, or a decision table.
The interpretations of many sample tables are given for tabular notations used
in the nuclear and aviation industries.
The design of a table interpretation storage method for the Table Tool System,
and an expression evaluation tool are discussed. The Table Tool System supports
the production of software documentation through an integrated set of tools
[23]. The evaluation code generator tool generates code to evaluate any tabular
expression whose interpretation is defined using the general table model -
including new table types - and is an adaptation of the Test Oracle Generator
[20]. Such a tool may be used to check a requirements specification, or to test
a software implementation against its documented specification, thereby
increasing the value of formal software documentation.