Section: New Results

Real-Life Applications and Case Studies

ACE Cache Coherency Protocol

Participants : Abderahman Kriouile, Radu Mateescu, Wendelin Serwe.

In the context of a CIFRE convention with STMicroelectronics, we studied system-level cache coherency, a major challenge faced in the current system-on-chip architectures. Because of their increasing complexity (mainly due to the significant number of computing units), the validation effort using current simulation-based techniques grows exponentially. As an alternative, we study formal verification.

We focused on the ACE (AXI Coherency Extensions) cache coherency protocol, a system-level coherency protocol proposed by ARM  [25] . In a first step, we developed a formal LNT model (about 3200 lines of LNT) of a system consisting of an ACE-compliant cache coherent interconnect, processors, and a main memory. The model is parametric and can be instantiated with different configurations (number of processors, number of cache lines, number of memory lines) and different sets of supported elementary ACE operations (currently, a representative subset of 15 operations), including an abstract operation that represents any other ACE operation. We handled the global requirements of the ACE specification using a constraint oriented programming style, i.e., by representing each global requirement as a dedicated process observing the global behaviour and inhibiting incorrect executions.

In a second step, we generated for several configurations the corresponding LTS (up to 100 million states and 350 million transitions). We wrote two liveness properties in MCL expressing that each read (respectively write) transaction is executed until its termination. We also wrote two properties expressing cache coherence and data integrity. This required to transform state-based properties into action-based properties, by adding information about the cache state to actions executed by the cache. For all considered configurations, we checked these properties using parametric SVL scripts (about 100 lines) and EVALUATOR. For some scenarios without the processes representing the global requirements, EVALUATOR generated counterexamples for the cache coherence and data integrity. We are currently using these counterexamples to derive test cases for the architecture under design at STMicroelectronics.

This work led to publications [21] , [15] .

Choreography-based Communicating Systems

Participants : Radu Mateescu, Gwen Salaün, Lina Ye, Kaoutar Hafdi.

Choreographies are contracts specifying interactions among a set of services from a global point of view. These contracts serve as reference for the further development steps of the distributed system. Therefore, their specification and analysis is crucial to avoid issues (e.g., deadlocks) that may induce delays and additional costs if identified lately in the design and development process.

In 2013, we have obtained the following results:

  • In collaboration with Meriem Ouederni (University of Toulouse) and Tevfik Bultan (University of California at Santa Barbara), we have proposed a branching definition of the synchronizability property, which identifies systems whose interaction behavior remains the same when asynchronous communication is replaced with synchronous communication. We have also shown how these results can be used for checking the compatibility of a set of asynchronously communicating components [17] .

  • In collaboration with Matthias Güdemann (Systerel), we have defined sufficient conditions for checking the repairability property, which indicates whether realizability can be enforced for choreography-based communicating systems using distributed controllers. A paper has been submitted to an international conference.

  • We have proposed an approach for computing the degree of parallelism of BPMN processes using model checking techniques. A paper has been submitted to an international conference.

  • In collaboration with Pascal Poizat (University of Paris Ouest Nanterre), we have been working on the development of the VerChor platform, which aims at assembling all the verification techniques and tools automating the analysis of choreography specifications [14] .

Deployment and Reconfiguration Protocols for Cloud Applications

Participants : Rim Abid, Gwen Salaün.

We collaborated with Noël de Palma and Fabienne Boyer (University Joseph Fourier), Xavier Etchevers and Thierry Coupaye (Orange Labs, Meylan, France) in the field of cloud computing applications, which are complex distributed applications composed of interconnected software components running on distinct virtual machines. Setting up, (re)configuring, and monitoring these applications involves intricate management protocols, which fully automate these tasks while preserving application consistency as well as some key architectural invariants.

In 2013, we focused on the reliability of the self-configuration protocol [22] . This protocol always succeeds in deploying a cloud application, even when facing a finite number of virtual machine or network failures. Designing such highly parallel management protocols is difficult, therefore formal modelling techniques and verification tools were used for validation purposes. These results were accepted for publication in an international conference [11] . Also, an experience export on the verification tasks for such (re)configuration protocols has been published in an international journal [8] .

We have also worked on the design and verification of a reconfiguration protocol, where virtual machines interact altogether using a publish-subscribe messaging system. The verification of this protocol with CADP helped to refine several parts of the protocol and correct subtle bugs. These results have been published in an international conference [10] . In collaboration with Francisco Durán (University of Málaga), we have also worked on the design of a variant of this reconfiguration protocol, where the virtual machines interact via FIFO buffers. A paper has been submitted to an international conference.

Networks of Programmable Logic Controllers

Participants : Hubert Garavel, Fatma Jebali, Jingyan Jourdan-Lu, Frédéric Lang, Eric Léo, Radu Mateescu.

In the context of the Bluesky project (see § ), we study the software applications embedded on the PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers) manufactured by Crouzet Automatismes. One of the objectives of Bluesky is to enable the rigorous design of complex control applications running on several PLCs connected by a network. Such applications are instances of GALS (Globally Asynchronous, Locally Synchronous) systems composed of several synchronous automata embedded on individual PLCs, which interact asynchronously by exchanging messages. A formal analysis of these systems can be naturally achieved by using the formal languages and verification techniques developed in the field of asynchronous concurrency.

For describing the applications embedded on individual PLCs, Crouzet provides a dataflow language with graphical syntax and synchronous semantics, equipped with an ergonomic user interface that facilitates the learning and use of the language by non-experts. To equip the PLC language of Crouzet with functionalities for automated verification, the solution adopted in Bluesky was to translate it into a pivot language that will enable the connection to testing and verification tools covering the synchronous and asynchronous aspects. Our work focuses on the translation from the pivot language to LNT, which will provide a direct connection to all verification functionalities of CADP, in particular model checking and equivalence checking.

In 2013, we studied the existing approaches and languages that address formal modeling and verification of GALS systems. We concluded that the current landscape lacks general-purpose, flexible, and formal representation of GALS systems suitable for efficient verification. To fulfill this requirement, we have designed GRL (GALS Representation Language), a language with user-friendly syntax and formal semantics, to efficiently model GALS systems for the purpose of formal verification. GRL targets GALS systems consisting of networks of synchronous systems interacting with their environments and communicating via asynchronous media. GRL draws mainly from two foundations. Regarding asynchronous concurrency, GRL builds upon process calculi (in particular LNT). Thereby, it leverages process calculi expressiveness, versatility, and verification efficiency. Regarding synchronous features, GRL holds a dataflow-oriented model based on the dataflow diagram model (also called block-diagram model). The GRL synchronous model inherits from the simplicity and modularity of the block-diagram model.

We defined the lexical and the abstract syntax of GRL (about 80 grammar rules), its static semantics (about 150 binding, typing, and initialization rules), and its dynamic semantics (about 20 structured operational semantics rules). Using the SYNTAX and LOTOS NT compiler construction technology, we started the development of a prototype translator GRL2LNT (about 8000 lines). The tool currently performs the lexical and syntactic analysis of GRL programs, together with some static semantic checks. A database containing about 30 examples of GRL programs has been constructed and used for non-regression testing of GRL2LNT. A reference manual for GRL (130 pages up to now) containing the definition of the language and its translation to LNT has been written. A paper presenting the GRL language has been submitted to an international conference.

Regarding the analysis of PLC networks by equivalence checking, we defined variants of classic equivalence relations (strong, τ*.a, and branching) for comparing the Mealy machine corresponding to a PLC network with the Moore machine corresponding to its external behaviour. We reformulated the verification problem as the resolution of a Boolean equation system, and we developed a prototype tool, based on the CAESAR_SOLVE_1 library, for the on-the-fly comparison of a Mealy and a Moore machine modulo the strong or the τ*.a equivalences.

EnergyBus Standard for Connecting Electric Components

Participants : Hubert Garavel, Wendelin Serwe.

The EnergyBus (http://www.energybus.org ) is an upcoming industrial standard for electric power transmission and management, based on the CANopen field bus. It is developed by a consortium assembling all major industrial players (such as Bosch, Panasonic, and Emtas) in the area of light electric vehicles (LEV); their intention is to ensure interoperability between all electric LEV components. At the core of this initiative is a universal plug integrating a CAN-Bus(http://www.can-cia.org ) with switchable power lines. The central and innovative role of the EnergyBus is to manage the safe electricity access and distribution inside an EnergyBus network.

In the framework of the European FP7 project SENSATION (see § ) a formal specification in LNT of the main EnergyBus protocols is being developed by Alexander Graf-Brill and Holger Hermanns at Saarland University  [49] , with the active collaboration of CONVECS.

In 2013, CONVECS provided help in modelling using the LNT language and the TGV tool, and enhanced the CADP toolbox to address a number of issues reported by Saarland University. At present, this LNT specification (1670 lines) is used for generating test suites using the TGV tool  [53] . The formal modelling prompted for modifications in the EnergyBus standard and the generated test suites revealed three unknown bugs in an industrial CANopen implementation.

Graphical User-Interfaces and Plasticity

Participants : Hubert Garavel, Frédéric Lang, Raquel Oliveira.

In the context of the Connexion project (see § ) and in close co-operation with Gaëlle Calvary, Eric Ceret, and Sophie Dupuy-Chessa (IIHM team of the LIG laboratory), we study the formal description and validation of graphical user-interfaces using the most recent features of the CADP toolbox. The case study assigned to LIG in this project is a prototype graphical user-interface  [35] designed to provide human operators with an overview of a running nuclear plant. Contrary to conventional control rooms, which employ large desks and dedicated hardware panels for supervision, this new-generation interface uses standard computer hardware (i.e., smaller screen(s), keyboard, and mouse), thus raising challenging questions on how to best provide synthetic views of status information and alarms resulting from faults, disturbances, or unexpected events in the plant. Another challenge is to introduce plasticity in such interface, so as to enable several supervision operators, including mobile ones outside of the control room, to get accurate information in real time.

In 2013, CONVECS contributed to the following results. Based upon the available information published by EDF, a formal specification in LNT of this new-generation interface was developed (2600 lines). This specification not only encompasses the usual components traditionally found in graphical user-interfaces, but also a model of the physical world (namely, a nuclear reactor with various fault scenarios) and a cognitive model of a human operator in charge of supervising the plant. Also, a few desirable properties of the interface have been expressed in the MCL language of CADP and verified on the LNT model.

So doing, three main difficulties have been faced. The description of the prototype available in the published literature is not exhaustive, which required us to provide those missing details needed to obtain a realistic model. Quite often, we faced a combinatorial explosion in the number of states of the model, which forced us to restrict the complexity of operator behaviour and fault models. Finally, this case study revealed several LNT-specific issues, which triggered enhancements in the LNT language and tools.