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Multiparadigm Constraint Programming Languages (Cognitive Technologies)

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"Modeling" has become one of the primary concerns in modern Software Engineering. The reason is simple: starting development processes from clear and succinct models has proven to foster not only quality but also productivity. With the advance of modeling there also came a desire for automatic code generation from models. This way, the costly and error-prone implementation in terms of low-level languages should be saved. To this end, the models need to be "executable" in the widest sense.

In this general picture the concepts of constraint programming obtain a new and economically important role. Even though they are not in the current mainstream of UML-style graphical languages, they are extremely well suited for describing models. This is evident by considering the very nature of constraints: one formulates the properties that a software system shall fulfill; the implementation is done automatically by the constraint solver. So the time is ripe for constraint-based programming to come out of the more academic world, to which it still is constrained to a large extent, and show its potential for modeling real-world applications.

However, there is no silver bullet. Classical constraint systems in their pure forms are not expressive enough to be used in a large variety of application domains. Therefore they need to be augmented by other styles and concepts for programming and modeling. This leads into the realm of so-called "multiparadigm languages". There have been all kinds of approaches in Computer Science to address the "no-silver-bullet" issue. Examples range from voluminous languages such as PL/1 or Ada (which failed miserably), huge libraries (which are non-standardized and thus lead to severe problems in the long run), or Microsoft’s .Net approach (which solves the problem at least on the low level of machine code). The keyword DSLs (domain-specific languages) can be viewed as the general circumscription for all kinds of attempts to address the multiparadigm idea. By contrast to .Net the emphasis here is on the integration at the level at which the users formulate their intentions.

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