In software engineering and computer science, abstraction is:

  • The process of removing or generalizing physical, spatial, or temporal details[2] or attributes in the study of objects or systems to focus attention on details of greater importance;[3] it is similar in nature to the process of generalization;
  • the creation of abstract concept-objects by mirroring common features or attributes of various non-abstract objects or systems of study[3] – the result of the process of abstraction.

The essence of abstraction is preserving information that is relevant in a given context, and forgetting information that is irrelevant in that context.

John V. Guttag[1]

Abstraction, in general, is a fundamental concept in computer science and software development.[4] The process of abstraction can also be referred to as modeling and is closely related to the concepts of theory and design.[5] Models can also be considered types of abstractions per their generalization of aspects of reality.

Abstraction in computer science is closely related to abstraction in mathematics due to their common focus on building abstractions as objects,[2] but is also related to other notions of abstraction used in other fields such as art.[3]

Abstractions may also refer to real-world objects and systems, rules of computational systems or rules of programming languages that carry or utilize features of abstraction itself, such as:

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