Draft Thesis Abstract and Introduction

June 2, 2009

I set out to write approximately 500 words of thesis-related content among other tasks today, which worked out roughly to being a draft abstract and introduction. I would describe it as heavily unedited, since I have trouble editing this kind of stuff while writing it.

Tell me if it sounds like something you’d like to read more 🙂 Remember, heavily unedited, so caveat emptor.


Language-oriented programming research focuses on the techniques, tools and benefits of domain-specific language creation. However, since software maintenance is an important part of software projects, we should consider the maintainability of domain-specific language programs. These programs differ in many ways from their general-purpose language counterparts; we should not expect results applicable to one set to generalize to the other.

This thesis presents the results of a case study of maintenance of domain-specific language programs in industry. Results show that TODO Complete when results are gathered.


Language oriented programming and the related subject of domain-specific languages have attracted attention from academics and industry practitioners.

Academic research has studied the nature and benefits of domain-specific languages. Several domain-specific languages are described in the literature. Researchers have explored methodologies and tools for constructing domain-specific languages. Several papers describe empirical evaluations of domain-specific languages. A few describe techniques for automatic creation of debuggers and other tools for domain-specific languages.

Some domain-specific languages are targeted at non-programmer domain experts. These languages overlap with the research in end-user programming.

Prominent businesses host tool-development projects to simplify the creation of domain-specific languages. Books and essays feature domain-specific languages.

To our knowledge, little attention has been paid to the maintainability of domain-specific language programs. As deliverables, they are subject to requirements change; as programs they are vulnerable to defects. That maintenance constitutes a large part of software effort is now common knowledge. Existing efforts to construct debuggers for domain-specific languages imply a need for debugging of domain-specific languages. Together this implies a gap in our understanding of the total value of domain-specific languages. This thesis aims to fill the gap.

Chapter 2 of this thesis surveys the field of domain-specific languages and language oriented programming. It provides a thorough standalone introduction to the state of the art in tools and knowledge, including pointers to other surveys and resources.

Chapter 3 surveys research in debugging, with an emphasis on cognitive processes, theories and other results relevant to domain-specific languages.

Chapter 4 poses and justifies specific research questions relevant to the maintainability of domain-specific language programs. These questions were informed by lightweight exploratory research; this work is detailed here.

Chapter 5 details the design of the main case study of this thesis. Chapter 6 presents its execution. The results are analyzed in Chapter 7 and discussed in Chapter 8.


3 Responses to “Draft Thesis Abstract and Introduction”

  1. plagal Says:

    Do I want to read more? I’m frustrated that I have to wait until February! You chose a *very* interesting topic, Aran, I can’t wait to see the execution.

    By the way, I think it would be a good idea to add a mention about debugging in the abstract.

  2. […] Donohue has posted a few hundred words about his intended research (debugging DSLs). He has also summarized some papers on cognitive […]

  3. […] Donohue has posted a few hundred words about his intended research (debugging DSLs). He has also summarized some papers on cognitive […]

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