Semantics is a term that, in computer programming, describes the behaviours that result from the execution of a particular program or piece of software. Not to be confused with syntax, which, in programming, refers to the way a program is expressed or written. Generally speaking, it’s easier to check and troubleshoot syntax than it is semantics, as testing every possible condition a program could be run in is effectively impossible.
Technipages Explains Semantics
Programs are tested through the use of test cases – that means that someone determines the possible ways a user could interact with the program, both valid and invalid. These cases are then executed in order to see how the program responds. Where the semantics don’t match the expected or desired behaviour, something needs to be changed prior to release. It would take a huge amount of time and resources to test every possible scenario, which is why usually the most likely cases are written up, along with the ones most likely to cause issues for the program.
That way, as many errors as possible are caught as quickly as possible. Where a syntax error could prevent a program from running or crash it partway, a semantics error can be a lot less dramatic, and something as simple as a button performing not the action it is supposed to, but something else entirely. Both types of error need to be addressed prior to release, of course, but the latter is usually easier to miss and harder to find.
Common Uses of Semantics
- Semantics describes the processes a computer follows when executing a program in that specific language.
- Formal semantics helps to better understand what a program is doing.
- Semantics is the study of the meaning of programming languages and how unintended operations can arise.
Common Misuses of Semantics
- Semantics, like Syntax, is an term that refers to the code behind a program and the expressions that create it.