ISO Approves Ada 2012 Programming Language Standard

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2012-12-19 Print this article Print

Ada is a structured, statically typed, imperative, wide-spectrum and object-oriented high-level computer programming language, extended from Pascal and other languages. It has strong built-in language support for explicit concurrency, offering tasks, synchronous message passing, protected objects and nondeterminism. Ada was originally designed by a team led by Jean Ichbiah of CII Honeywell Bull under contract to the United States Department of Defense from 1977 to 1983 to supersede the hundreds of programming languages then used by the DOD.

The programming language was named after Ada Lovelace, a mathematician who is sometimes regarded as the world's first programmer because of her work with Charles Babbage. She was also the daughter of the poet Lord Byron. Ironically, the Ada 2012 standard announcement comes just days after Lovelace's Dec. 10 birthday.

Ada was originally targeted at embedded and real-time systems. The Ada 95 revision, designed by S. Tucker Taft of Intermetrics in the early 1990s, improved support for systems, numerical, financial and object-oriented programming (OOP).

Ada is designed for the development of very large software systems. Ada packages can be compiled separately, and their specifications can also be compiled separately without the implementation to check for consistency. This makes it possible to detect problems early during the design phase, before implementation starts. The Ada programming language is designed for large, long-lived applications—and embedded systems in particular—where reliability and efficiency are essential.

The language revision, known as Ada 2012, was under the auspices of ISO/IEC JTC1/SC22/WG9 and was conducted by the Ada Rapporteur Group (ARG) subunit of WG9, with sponsorship in part from the ARA and Ada-Europe.

ISO and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) are the two primary organizations for international standardization. They resolve the problem of overlapping scope by forming a Joint Technical Committee, JTC1, to deal with all standardization in the scope of information technology. JTC1 deals with its large scope of work by subdividing the responsibility among a number of subcommittees.

SC22—which deals with programming languages, their environments and system software interfaces—is the parent body of WG9. In turn, SC22 subdivides its scope of work among several Working Groups. WG9 is responsible for the "development of ISO standards for programming language Ada." That gives you ISO/IEC JTC1/SC22/WG9. The formal approval of the standard was issued Nov. 20 by ISO/IEC JTC 1, and the standard was published Dec. 15.

A technical summary of Ada 2012, together with an explanation of the language's benefits and a set of links to further information, is available at, which the Ada Resource Association maintains.


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