English: A person who is the mother of another person who is herself the mother of a third person is the grandmother of the third person
Which representation do you prefer?
My best attempt at communicate meaning is by offering yet another syntactic structure form some other symbol system with yet another semantics that I hope my audience understands. Where is meaning ultimately captured? Is it captured at all? We gather evidence that expressions in one system align with expressions in another. At some point we agree that we understand each other. But do we? Have we capture meaning or just aligned expressions in different symbol systems to realize functional communication? Does the meaning of the American word love have a direct analog in Latin?
Scott-Strachey approach to programming language theory
Denotational Semantics (book by Joseph Stoy)
Lambda Calculus (dates back to Lisp in the 1950’s)
Concept: Given a program, P and the environment, E (contents of the registers of the machine or of variable/value bindings), there is a formal theory for logically deducing the “next environment” -- the environment that is entailed by P + E.
What are the operational semantics?
How the compiler processes the program to determine the assignment of variables to values.