User-defined Types and Procedural Data Structures as Complementary Approaches to Data Abstraction
journal contributionposted on 01.07.2010, 00:00 by John C Reynolds
User-defined types (or modes) and procedural (or functional) data structures are complementary methods for data abstraction, each providing a capability lacked by the other. With user-defined types, all information about the representation of a particular kind of data is centralized in a type definition and hidden from the rest of the program. With procedural data structures, each part of the program which creates data can specify its own representation, independently of any representations used elsewhere for the same kind of data. However, this decentralization of the description of data is achieved at the cost of prohibiting primitive operations from accessing the representations of more than one data item. The contract between these approaches is illustrated by a simple example.