Friday, September 18, 2009


To cope with complexity, the human mind engages in abstraction, the act of separating the essential qualities of an idea or object from the details of how it works or is composed. With abstraction, we focus on the what, not the how. Abstraction can be performed from different viewpoints.


  • Words of a spoken language
  • Metaphysical abstractions
  • Objects in a classroom
  • Mathematical abstractions
  • Abstraction in programming

Fig: Abstraction in real life

Abstraction in Programming

Data types: An int-type represents an integer, a float-type represents a floating point number

Functions: absoluteValue

double absoluteValue(double d)
        return -d;
        return d;

double absoluteValue(double d)
    return abs(d);

Both of the given example functions do the same thing. We don't need to know how they are doing. So we are focusing on what, not how.

Types of Abstraction

There are two important abstraction techniques:
  • control abstraction
  • data abstraction

Control abstraction is the separation of the logical properties of an action from its implementation.

Data abstraction is the separation of a data type's logical properties from its implementation.

Reference: wikipedia, artima, microsoft

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