CSCI 383 Lecture 3 and 4: Abstraction


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Lecture slides for CSCI383 given at StFX University, Fall 2009

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CSCI 383 Lecture 3 and 4: Abstraction

  1. 1. CSCI-383 Object-Oriented Programming & Design Lecture 3-4: Abstraction Ji Ruan 2009/09/18 and 09/21
  2. 2. Overview Abstraction and Information Hiding Levels of Abstraction Forms of Abstraction A Short History of Abstraction
  3. 3. Abstraction What is Abstraction? Definition: Abstraction is the purposeful suppression, or hiding, of some details of a process or artifact, in order to bring out more clearly other aspects, details, or structure. In other word, the elimination of the irrelevant and the amplification of the essential Why? It’s one of the most important techniques to create, understand and manage complex systems
  4. 4. An Example of Abstraction - Map Think of maps, and the different levels of details: A map of the world, contains mountain ranges, large political boundaries A map of a continent, contains all political boundaries, large cities A map of a country, contains more cities, major roads A map of a large city, roads, major structures A map of a portion of a city, buildings, occupants Each level contains information appropriate to the level of abstraction. A demo with: Google Maps (
  5. 5. Information Hiding Information hiding is the purposeful omission of details in the development of an abstract representation. Information hiding is what allows abstraction to control complexity.
  6. 6. Example of Real-world Abstraction - Car For drivers: Need to know Ignition Steering wheel Shifting gear Can ignore (hidden) the particular engine in this car; the way fuel is pumped to the engine where a spark ignites it, it explodes pushing down a piston and driving a crankshaft. For mechanics: Need to know batteries and engines Can ignore (hidden) inside the battery there's a complex chemical reaction going on. For the battery designers: Need to know What is inside the battery How to make it durable Can ignore (hidden) How to use this battery, e.g. the electronics going into the car's radio.
  7. 7. Five Levels of Abstraction
  8. 8. Levels of Abstraction in OO Programs At the highest level (level 1) of abstraction we view a program as a community of interacting objects. Important characteristics here are the lines of communication between the various agents.
  9. 9. Abstraction in OO Programs -- Packages and Name spaces The next level (level 2) of abstraction is found in some (but not all) OO languages. A package, Unit or Name Space allows a programmer to surround a collection of objects (a small community in itself) with a layer, and control visibility from outside the module.
  10. 10. Abstraction in OO Languages -- Clients and Servers The next level of abstraction considers the relationship between two individual objects. Typically one is providing a service, and the other is using the service.
  11. 11. Abstraction in OO languages -- Description of Services We can examine just the person providing a service, independent of the client. We define the nature of the services that are offered, but not how those services are realized. (like billboard advertisements)
  12. 12. Levels of Abstraction in OO -- Interfaces Interfaces (level 3) are one way to describe services at this level of abstraction. interface Stack { public void push (Object val); public Object top () throws EmptyStackException; public void pop () throws EmptyStackException; }
  13. 13. Levels of Abstraction -- An Implementation Next (level 4) we look at the services provided, but from the implementation side: public class LinkedList implements Stack ... { public void pop () throws EmptyStackException { ... } ... } Concern here is with the high level approach to providing the designated service.
  14. 14. Levels of Abstraction -- A Method in Isolation Finally (level 5), we consider the implementation of each method in isolation. public class LinkedList implements Stack ... { ... public void pop () throws EmptyStackException { if (isEmpty()) throw new EmptyStackException(); removeFirst(); // delete first element of list } ... } Every level is important, and often you move quickly back and forth between levels.
  15. 15. Summary of abstraction levels Level 1, community of interacting objects Level 2, a package or Name Space to surround a collection of objects Level 3, interfaces to describe services (the client side) Level 4, concrete implementation of the abstract behavior (the server side) Level 5, every single method
  16. 16. Finding the Right Level of Abstraction A critical problem in early stages of development is to determine what details are appropriate at each level of abstraction, and (often more importantly) what details should be omitted. One does not want to ignore or throw away important information But one does not want to manage too much information, or have the amount of information hide critical details.
  17. 17. Forms of Abstraction
  18. 18. Forms of Abstraction Specialization (Is-A) Car :: Wheeled vehicle :: Means of transportation Division into parts (Has-A) Car { engine; transmission; body; wheels} Multiple views CarDriverView { Ignite(); SteerWheel(); ShiftGear() } CarMechanicsView { CheckBattery(); CheckWheels(); CheckEngine() }
  19. 19. Forms of Abstraction
  20. 20. Is-a Abstraction Is-a abstraction takes a complex system, and views it as an instance of a more general abstraction. Characterized by sentences that have the words "is-a'' A car is a wheeled vehicle, which is-a means of transportation A bicycle is-a wheeled vehicle A pack horse is-a means of transportation Allows us to categorize artifacts and information and make it applicable to many different situations.
  21. 21. Has-a Abstraction Division into parts takes a complex system, and divides into into component parts, which can then be considered in isolation. Characterized by sentences that have the words "has-a'' A car has-a engine, and has-a transmission A bicycle has-a wheel A window has-a menu bar Allows us to drop down a level of complexity when we consider the component in isolation.
  22. 22. Encapsulation and Interchangeability An important aspect of division into parts is to clearly characterize the connection, or interface, between two components. Allows for considering multiple different implementations of the same interface. For example, a car can have several different types of engine and one transmission.
  23. 23. The Service View Another way to think of an interface is as a way of describing the service that an object provides. The interface is a contract for the service--if the interface is upheld, then the service will be provided as described.
  24. 24. Inheritance and Polymorphism Square and Triangle inherited method set_colour() Square and Triangle implement different method draw()
  25. 25. Other Types of Abstraction: Composition While is-a and has-a are two important types of abstraction, there are others. Composition is one example; a form of has-a; characterized by the following Primitive forms Rules for combining old forms to create new forms The idea that new forms can also be subject to further combination
  26. 26. Regular expressions Basic alphabet {a, b, c} Rule 1: any single element of the alphabet is a regular expression. a is a regular expression Rule 2: composition of two regular expressions is a regular expression. ab is a regular expression Rule 3: alternation (|) of two regular expressions is a regular expression. aba|abc|abd is a regular expression Rule 4: use parentheses for grouping, the result is a regular expression. ab(a|c|d), meaning aba|abc|abd, is a regular expression Rule 5: use * symbol represent “zero or more repetitions”, the result is a regular expression. (((a|b)*c)|dd)a is a regular expression.
  27. 27. Patterns Patterns are another attempt to document and reuse abstractions. Patterns are description of proven and useful relationships between objects; which can help guide the solution of new problems.
  28. 28. Patterns: example The Great Firewall of China, China's Internet Censorship System, blocks many sites, e.g Youtube, Wikipedia, Twitter etc.) The GFW even blocks my personal blog: Here is a screenshot when I tried to visit my blog in a netbar in China (2007). “找不到服务器, 无法显示网页” “The Connection Has Been Reset” (Article | wikipeida)
  29. 29. Patterns: example Proxy Model An application: crack the GFW using proxy
  30. 30. A Short History of Abstraction Mechanisms
  31. 31. An Overview of History Another way to better understand OOP is to put it in context with the history of abstraction in computer science. Assembly languages Procedures Modules Abstract Data Type (ADT) The Service View Objects The future....
  32. 32. Assembly Languages Assembly languages and linkers were perhaps the first tools used to abstract features of the bare machine. Addresses could be represented symbolically, not as a number. Symbolic names for operations. Linking of names and locations performed automatically
  33. 33. Procedures and Functions Libraries of procedures and functions (such as mathematical or input/output libraries) provided the first hints of information hiding. They permit the programmer to think about operations in high level terms, concentrating on what is being done, not how it is being performed. But they are not an entirely effective mechanism of information hiding.
  34. 34. Failure of Procedures in Information Hiding A Simple Stacks: int datastack[100]; int datatop = 0; void init() // initialize the stack { datatop = 0; } void push(int val) // push a value on to the stack { if (datatop < 100) datastack [datatop++] = val; } int top() // get the top of the stack { if (datatop > 0) return datastack [datatop - 1]; return 0; } int pop() // pop element from the stack { if (datatop > 0) return datastack [--datatop]; return 0; } Where can you hide the implementation?
  35. 35. Modules Modules basically provide collections of procedures and data with import and export statements Solves the problem of encapsulation -- but what if your programming task requires two or more stacks? (No instantiation)
  36. 36. Parnas's Principles David Parnas described two principles for the proper use of modules: One must provide the intended user of a module with all the information needed to use the module correctly, and with nothing more. One must provide the implementer of a module with all the information needed to complete the module, and nothing more.
  37. 37. Abstract Data Types (ADTs) An Abstract Data Type is a programmer-defined data type that can be manipulated in a manner similar to system- provided data types Must have the ability to instantiate many different copies of the data type. Data type can be manipulated using provided operations, without knowledge of internal representation. But ADTs were important not because they were data structures, but because they provided an easily characterized service to the rest of an application.
  38. 38. Summery Looking at the history, we can separate it into three periods of time: Major concern is The Assembly language characterizing the Function Centered Functions and Procedures functionality of an View application The Major concern is Data Centered Modules characterizing the View Abstract Data Types data types used in an application The Object-Oriented Major concern is Service Centered Programming characterizing the View services provided by objects in the application
  39. 39. Objects - ADT's with Message Passing Characterists of Objects Encapsulation -- similar to modules Instantiation -- similar to ADT's Messages -- dynamic binding of procedure names to behavior Classes -- a way of organization that permits sharing and reuse Polymorphism -- A new form of software reuse using dynamic binding
  40. 40. What Does the Future Hold? Prediction is hard, particularly about the future. However, one you have accepted the idea of an application formed from interacting agents, there is no reason why those components must exist on the same computer (distributed computing) or be written in the same language (components). So some of the trends we see today in software are natural results of the OOP mind set. Web services, Cloud computing, Agent-Based Computing
  41. 41. Basic Idea of Cloud Computing Cloud computing is a paradigm of computing in which dynamically scalable and often virtualized resources are provided as a service over the Internet. Users need not have knowledge of, expertise in, or control over the technology infrastructure in the "cloud" that supports them.
  42. 42. Assignment 2: Textbook Chapter 2: Exercises 1,2,3. Deadline: Wed, September 30, 2009. Either by email or giving it to me directly in the class.
  43. 43. About these slides These slides are created by Dr. The slides are licensed under Ji Ruan on top of the lecture Creative Commons Attribution- notes by Prof. Wendy MacCaull Share Alike 3.0 and Dr. Hao Wang from their previous years' teaching on this course at StFX University. You are free to Share and Remix this work, under the following The core materials are based on conditions: book: An introduction to Object- Attribution Oriented Programming, 3rd Share Alike edition, by Timothy Budd.