Section: Overall Objectives


The VerTeCs team is focused on the use of formal methods to assess the reliability, safety and security of reactive software systems. By reactive software system we mean a system controlled by software which reacts with its environment (human or other reactive software). Among these, critical systems are of primary importance, as errors occurring during their execution may have dramatic economical or human consequences. Thus, it is essential to establish their correctness before they are deployed in a real environment, or at least detect incorrectness during execution and take appropriate action. For this aim, the VerTeCs team promotes the use of formal methods, i.e. formal specification of software and their required properties and mathematically founded validation methods. Our research covers several validation methods, all oriented towards a better reliability of software systems:

  • Verification, which is used during the analysis and design phases, and whose aim is to establish the correctness of specifications with respect to requirements, properties or higher level specifications.

  • Control synthesis, which consists in “forcing” (specifications of) systems to stay within desired behaviours by coupling them with a supervisor.

  • Conformance testing, which is used to check the correctness of a real system with respect to its specification. In this context, we are interested in model-based testing, and in particular automatic test generation of test cases from specifications.

  • Diagnosis and monitoring, which are used during execution to detect erroneous behaviour.

  • Combinations of these techniques, both at the methodological level (combining several techniques within formal validation methodologies) and at the technical level (as the same set of formal verification techniques - model checking, theorem proving and abstract interpretation - are required for control synthesis, test generation and diagnosis).

Our research is thus concerned with the development of formal models for the description of software systems, the formalization of relations between software artifacts (e.g. satisfaction, conformance between properties, specifications, implementations), the interaction between these artifacts (modelling of execution, composition, etc). We develop methods and algorithms for verification, controller synthesis, test generation and diagnosis that ensure desirable properties (e.g. correctness, completeness, optimality, etc). We try to be as generic as possible in terms of models and techniques in order to cope with a wide range of application domains and specification languages. Our research has been applied to telecommunication systems, embedded systems, smart-cards application, and control-command systems. We implement prototype tools for distribution in the academic world, or for transfer to the industry.

Our research is based on formal models and our basic tools are verification techniques such as model checking, abstract interpretation, the control theory of discrete event systems, and their underlying models and logics. The close connection between testing, control and verification produces a synergy between these research topics and allows us to share theories, models, algorithms and tools.