Formal Language

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formal language

[¦fȯr·məl ′laŋ·gwij]
(computer science)
An abstract mathematical object used to model the syntax of a programming or natural language.

Formal Language


(1) In a broad sense, a formal language is a set of in some way specialized linguistic means that is provided with more or less precisely defined rules for forming expressions (the syntax of the formal language) and for assigning meaning to the expressions (the semantics of the language). Generally speaking, this use of the term “formal language” does not assume any special restrictions on the syntactic structure, semantic rules, or purpose of the language. For example, the expressions “H2O,” voda, eau, “water,” Wasser, and vesi can, in principle, be considered in equal measure elements of the formal language of chemistry.

(2) In logic, a formal, or formalized, language is an interpreted calculus, that is, a formal system with an interpretation. The use of formal languages is characteristic of mathematical logic, which is often defined as “the subject of formal logic as studied through the construction of formal languages.” It should, however, be noted that this definition is by no means an inherent attribute of presentations of mathematical logic. The concept of formal language not only does not generally occur in particular logico-mathematical languages but, strictly speaking, is not even an element of any specific metalanguages. It is, rather, a useful working term in preliminary heuristic elucidations of the subject matter of mathematical logic.


Church, A. Vvedenie v matematicheskuiu logiku, vol. 1. Moscow, 1960. Introduction (subsecs. 00–09). Translated from English.
References in periodicals archive ?
The aim of this project is to apply the topological methods provided by Stone duality to the study of the expressive power of logic in describing formal languages of both finite and infinite words.
This is an example, and the point is that our philosophy and formal language gives one endless possibilities not only to look at small elements like furniture, but also can be scaled to examine buildings as elements of cities and in that way, our ideas can be applied on much larger scales.
Again, in the formal language of game theory, this relationship can, and should, provide for a "positive-sum game.
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Mathematics deals with objects of the mind via logic and formal language.
This opens up a huge door into the uses of language--be it instructional language, informative language, descriptive language, creative language, formal language, structured language and more.
Using a formal language derived from the movement of water, the Roca London Gallery has been eroded and polished by fluidity; generating a sequence of dynamic spaces carved from this fascinating interplay between architecture and nature.
One of the main difficulties that Lim faces in her work as a translator is the difference between the formal language she learned in school and the colloquial Lebanese dialect.
Numerous languages do not use formal language at all or only sparingly.
I wanted to investigate the relationship between Welsh as it used to be spoken, and the more formal language seen in written Welsh.
Getting someone told," or, in more formal language, venting your frustrations to a problem employee, does not work.

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