One approach to the study of computer programming is to study programming
languages.But there are a tremendously large number of languages, so large that
it is impractical to study them all.Ho w can we tackle this immensity? We could
pick a small number of languages that are representative of different programming
paradigms.But this gives little insight into programming as a unified discipline.
This book uses another approach.
We focus on programming concepts and the techniques in using them, not on
programming languages.Th e concepts are organized in terms of computation models.
A computation model is a formal system that defines how computations are
done.Ther e are many ways to define computation models. Since this book is intended
to be practical, it is important that the computation model be directly
useful to the programmer.W e therefore define it in terms of concepts that are
important to programmers: data types, operations, and a programming language.
The term computation model makes precise the imprecise notion of “programming
paradigm.” The rest of the book talks about computation models and not programming
paradigms.So metimes we use the phrase “programming model.” This refers
to what the programmer needs: the programming techniques and design principles
made possible by the computation model.
Each computation model has its own set of techniques for programming and
reasoning about programs.Th e number of different computation models that are
known to be useful is much smaller than the number of programming languages.
This book covers many well-known models as well as some less-known models.The
main criterion for presenting a model is whether it is useful in practice.
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