ACLLiteratureOther manualsCambridge Conference 1949 :: High Speed Automatic Calculating-Machines 22-25 June 1949
ACLLiteratureOther manualsCambridge Conference 1949 :: High Speed Automatic Calculating-Machines 22-25 June 1949

### 14 Checking a Large Routine: Dr A Turing

How can one check a routine in the sense of making sure that it is right?

In order that the man who checks may not have too difficult a task the programmer should make a number of definite assertions which can be checked individually, and from which the correctness of the whole programme easily follows.

Consider the analogy of checking an addition. If it is given as:

```   1374
5906
6719
4337
7768
----
26104
```

one must check the whole at one sitting, because of the carries. But if the totals for the various columns are given, as below:

```   1374
5906
6719
4337
7768
----
3974
2213
----
26104
```

the checker's work is much easier being split up into the checking of the various assertions 3 + 9 + 7 + 3 + 7= 29 etc. and the small addition

```   3974
2213
----
26104
```

This principle can be applied to the process of checking a large routine but we will illustrate the method by means of a small routine viz. one to obtain !n without the use of a multiplier, multiplication being carried out by repeated addition.

At a typical moment of the process we have recorded r and s r for some r, s. We can change s r to (s+1) r by addition of r. When s = r+1 we can change r to r+1 by a transfer. Unfortunately there is no coding system sufficiently generally known to justify giving the routine for this process in full, but the flow diagram given in fig.1 will be sufficient for illustration.

##### Fig.1.

0 is regarded as positive

Each box of the flow diagram represents a straight sequence of instructions without changes of control. The following convention is used:

(i) a dashed letter indicates the value at the end of the process represented by the box;

(ii) an undashed letter represents the initial value of a quantity.

One cannot equate similar letters appearing in different boxes, but it is intended that the following identifications be valid throughout.

```s     contents of line 27 of store
r     contents of line 28 of store
n     contents of line 29 of store
u     contents of line 30 of store
v     contents of line 31 of store
```

It is also intended that u be s r or something of the sort e.g. it might be (s+1) r or s r-1 but not e.g. s2 + r2 .

In order to assist the checker, the programmer should make assertions about the various states that the machine can reach. These assertions may be tabulated as in fig.2. Assertions are only made for the states when certain particular quantities are in control, corresponding to the ringed letters in the flow diagram. One column of the table is used for each such situation of the control. Other quantities are also needed to specify the condition of the machine completely: in our case it is sufficient to give r and s. The upper part of the table gives the various contents of the store lines in the various conditions of the machine, and restrictions on the quantities s, r (which we may call inductive variables). The lower part tells us which of the conditions will be the next to occur.

Storage
Location
(INITIAL)
(A)
k=6

(B)
k=5

(C)
k=4
(STOP)>
(D)
k=0

(E)
k=3

(F)
k=1

(G)
k=2
27 s s + 1s
28 r r r rr
29 n n n n n nn
30 !r !r s!r (s+1)!r(s+1)!r
31 !r !n !r !r !r
To (B) with
r' = 1
s' = 1
To (C) To (D) if r = n
To (E) if r < n
To (G) To (B) with
r' = r + 1 if s ≥ r
To (E) with
r' = s + 1 if s < r
To (F)
##### Fig.2.

The checker has to verify that the columns corresponding to the initial condition and the stopped condition agree with the claims that are made for the routine as a whole. In this case the claim is that if we start with control in condition A and with n in line 29 we shall find a quantity in line 33 when the machine stops which is r (provided this is less than 240, but this condition has been ignored).

He has also to verify that each of the assertions in the lower half of the table is correct. In doing this the columns may be taken in any order and quite independently. Thus for column B the checker would argue. "From the flow diagram we see that after B the box v' = u applies. From the upper part of the column for B we have u = r. Hence v' = r i.e. the entry for v, i.e. for line 31 in C should be r. The other entries are the same as in B".

Finally the checker has to verify that the process comes to an end. Here again he should be assisted by the programmer giving a further definite assertion to be verified. This may take the form of a quantity which is asserted to decrease continually and vanish when the machine stops. To the pure mathematician it is natural to give an ordinal number. In this problem the ordinal might be (n - r) w2 + (r - s) w + k. A less highbrow form of the same thing would be to give the integer 280 (n - r) + 240(r - s) + k. Taking the latter case and the step from B to C there would be a decrease from 280 (n - r) + 240 (r - s) + 5 to 280 (n - v) + 240 (r - s) + 4. In the step from F to B there is a decrease from 280 (n - r) + 240(r - s) + 1 to 280 (n - r - 1) + 240 (r + 1 - s) + 5.

In the course of checking that the process comes to an end the time involved may also be estimated by arranging that the decreasing quantity represents an upper bound to the time till the machine stops.

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