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ERIC Number: EJ1003714
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Jan
Pages: 19
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 26
ISSN: ISSN-1946-6226
A Model-Driven Approach to Teaching Concurrency
Carro, Manuel; Herranz, Angel; Marino, Julio
ACM Transactions on Computing Education, v13 n1 Article 5 Jan 2013
We present an undergraduate course on concurrent programming where formal models are used in different stages of the learning process. The main practical difference with other approaches lies in the fact that the ability to develop correct concurrent software relies on a systematic transformation of formal models of inter-process interaction (so called "shared resources"), rather than on the specific constructs of some programming language. Using a resource-centric rather than a language-centric approach has some benefits for both teachers and students. Besides the obvious advantage of being independent of the programming language, the models help in the early validation of concurrent software design, provide students and teachers with a "lingua franca" that greatly simplifies communication at the classroom and during supervision, and help in the automatic generation of tests for the practical assignments. This method has been in use, with slight variations, for some 15 years, surviving changes in the programming language and course length. In this article, we describe the components and structure of the current incarnation of the course--which uses Java as target language--and some tools used to support our method. We provide a detailed description of the different outcomes that the model-driven approach delivers (validation of the initial design, automatic generation of tests, and mechanical generation of code) from a teaching perspective. A critical discussion on the perceived advantages and risks of our approach follows, including some proposals on how these risks can be minimized. We include a statistical analysis to show that our method has a positive impact in the student ability to understand concurrency and to generate correct code. (Contains 7 figures, 9 tables and 11 footnotes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A