Searching for Examples with a Programming Techniques Editor

Paul Brna


Searching through a library of examples for a similar task or similar solution is one way in which novice programmers learn to program. Providing help for novices to become more proficient programmers entails helping them both to see the significance of the 'deep' features of the current task and to take advantage of them both in searching a library of examples, and in selecting and using an appropriate case.

In this paper the focus is primarily on the problem of accessing a suitable case. For detailed consideration, a programming environment is utilised that features an 'intermediate description language'. This environment is SunTed, a Prolog Techniques Editor - which provides novice support of various types, including facilities to retrieve cases.

The basic issues addressed are: whether or not an intermediate description language for cases is a suitable means of supporting novices in their learning to program; the nature of the fundamental constituents of an intermediate description language; what can be learned from a system that implements a specific example of such an approach; and the consequences for the design of systems that support learning.


case based search and retrieval, intermediate description languages, Prolog techniques, program editors

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