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Specifying Systems: The TLA+ Language and Tools for Hardware and Software Engineers Paperback – 19 Jul 2002
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From the Back Cover
"TLA+ represents the only effective methodology I've seen for visualizing and quantifying algorithmic complexity in a way that is meaningful to engineers."
--Brannon Batson, Processor Architect, Intel Corporation
This long-awaited book shows how to write unambiguous specifications of complex computer systems.
The first part provides a concise and lucid introduction to specification, explaining how to describe, with mathematical precision, the behavioral properties of a system--what that system is allowed to do. The emphasis here is on safety properties.
The second part of the book covers more advanced topics, including liveness and fairness, real-time properties, and composition.
The book's final two parts provide a complete reference manual for the TLA+ language and tools, as well as a handy mini-manual. TLA+ is the language developed by the author for writing simple and elegant specifications of algorithms and protocols and for verifying the correctness of a design. The language already has proved to be a valuable aid in understanding and building concurrent and distributed systems. Tools for TLA+ syntax analysis and model checking are freely available from the Web, where you can also find supplemental materials for this book, including exercises.
About the Author
Leslie Lamport, a computer scientist, is well known for his contributions to concurrent computing and distributed systems. His "Time, Clocks, and the Ordering of Events in a Distributed System" paper has been honored for its enduring influence on the field. Lamport is also known for creating the LaTeX typesetting system and the best-selling book, LaTeX, Second Edition, which documents it (Addison-Wesley, 1994). Now at Microsoft Research in Mountain View, California, he began his work on TLA+ at the Digital (later Compaq) Systems Research Center in Palo Alto. Lamport, who earned his Ph.D. in mathematics from Brandeis University, is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This has been an eye opener book for concurrency and distributed software design. I learned more with this book (and the TLA+ toolbox) than with the "classic" from Lynch on distributed algorithms. I do not know if Lynch book also improves qualitatively when used with the Tempo toolbox. I guess it is worth trying.
The book is challenging but it is really well-written. I'll recommend the book to anyone that wants to challenge his understanding of computer systems (hardware, software, concurrency, etc). You will never evaluate your designs so naively.
I would like to have a new edition of this book that covers TLA+2.
BTW, You can get the pdf from Lamport web page.
Of the approaches I've read over the years, Lamport's TLA+ comes the closest to this promise a system specification that's workable. This book provides a great introduction with practical, real-world examples.
To convince yourself, you can start by reading the PDF version online, available by the author here: http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/people/lamport/tla/book.html
Compared to the relevant papers by Lamport and coauthors, the book is geared more towards beginners and users. It is not a collection of all the results, but has a complementary purpose. In particular, composition of open systems and timing constraints are developed in more detail outside this book.
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