A new introductory textbook on Semantics has appeared:

Semantics with Applications: A Formal Introduction

by Hanne Riis Nielson and Flemming Nielson (Aarhus, Denmark)

published by Wiley (ISBN 0-471-92980-8)

From the back cover:

Ambiguities in the language used to specify the requirements or

behaviour of a program, a programming language, or bits of

hardware might result in costly errors. Formal semantics can be

used to define exactly and rigorously how programs should

behave, and to prove that they can be implemented correctly.

This introductory text provides the framework for understanding,

applying and relating the competing approaches to formal

semantics. It does so by illustrating the description of pro-

gramming constructs using operational ('natural' or 'structural

operational'), denotational or axiomatic semantics.

It breaks new ground by considering also the validation of

compilers, static program analysers and techniques for estimating

the running time of individual programs.

The reader is gently introduced to the proof techniques needed for

equivalence proofs to provide the insight needed for an informed

choice of semantic approach (given the programming language

and the task at hand).

Readers should be familiar with the BNF-style of specifying the

syntax of programming languages and with most of the math-

ematical concepts surveyed in Appendix A (which gives the

mathematical notation on which the book is based). Appendices B,

C and D contain implementations of some of the semantic

specifications using the functional language Miranda. Numerous

exercises are provided -- they are graded according to relevance

and difficulty.

The book is about 240 pages and costs app. 16.50UKpounds/31.85USdollars.