In logic, **syntax** is anything having to do with formal languages or formal systems without regard to any interpretation or meaning given to them. The symbols, formulas, systems, theorems, proofs, and interpretations expressed in formal languages are syntactic entities whose properties may be studied without regard to any meaning they may be given, and, in fact, need not be given any.

Syntax is usually associated with the rules (or grammar) governing the composition of texts in a formal language that constitute the well-formed formulas of a formal system.

In computer science, the term syntax refers to the rules governing the composition of meaningful texts in a formal language, such as a programming language, that is, those texts for which it makes sense to define the semantics or meaning, or otherwise provide an interpretation.

A symbol is an idea, abstraction or concept, tokens of which may be marks or a configuration of marks which form a particular pattern. Symbols of a formal language need not be symbols of anything. For instance there are logical constants which do not refer to any idea, but rather serve as a form of punctuation in the language (e.g. parentheses). A symbol or string of symbols may comprise a well-formed formula if the formulation is consistent with the formation rules of the language. Symbols of a formal language must be capable of being specified without any reference to any interpretation of them.

A *formal language* is a syntactic entity which consists of a set of finite strings of symbols which are its words (usually called its well-formed formulas). Which strings of symbols are words is determined by fiat by the creator of the language, usually by specifying a set of formation rules. Such a language can be defined without reference to any meanings of any of its expressions; it can exist before any interpretation is assigned to it – that is, before it has any meaning.

A *formation rules*) are a precise description of which strings of symbols are the well-formed formulas of a formal language. It is synonymous with the set of strings over the alphabet of the formal language which constitute well formed formulas. However, it does not describe their semantics (i.e. what they mean).

A *formal system* (also called a *logical calculus*, or a *logical system*) consists of a formal language together with a deductive apparatus (also called a *deductive system*). The deductive apparatus may consist of a set of transformation rules (also called *inference rules*) or a set of axioms, or have both. A formal system is used to derive one expression from one or more other expressions. Formal systems, like other syntactic entities may be defined without any interpretation given to it (as being, for instance, a system of arithmetic).

An *interpretation* of a formal system is the assignment of meanings to the symbols, and truth values to the sentences of a formal system. The study of interpretations is called formal semantics. *Giving an interpretation* is synonymous with *constructing a model. An interpretation is expressed in a metalanguage, which may itself be a formal language, and as such itself is a syntactic entity.*

- Symbol (formal)
- Formation rule
- Formal grammar
- Syntactic consequence
- Syntax (linguistics)
- Mathematical logic
- Well-formed formula

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