Section: Research Program

Formal Methods for Developing Algorithms and Systems

Powerful theorem provers are not used in isolation, but they support the application of sound methodologies for modeling and verifying systems. In this respect, members of VeriDis have gained expertise and recognition in making contributions to formal methods for concurrent and distributed algorithms and systems [2] , [9] , and in applying them to concrete use cases. In particular, the concept of refinement [49] , [51] , [66] in state-based modeling formalisms is central to our approach because it allows us to present a rational (re)construction of system development. An important goal in designing such methods is to establish precise proof obligations many of which can be discharged by automatic tools. This requires taking into account specific characteristics of certain classes of systems and tailoring the model to concrete computational models. Our research in this area is supported by carrying out case studies for academic and industrial developments. This activity benefits from and influences the development of our proof tools.

In this line of work, we investigate specific development and verification patterns for particular classes of algorithms, in order to reduce the work associated with verifying specific algorithms. We are also interested in applications of formal methods and their associated tools to the development of systems that underlie specific certification requirements in the sense of, e.g., Common Criteria. Finally, we are interested in the adaptation of model checking techniques for verifying actual distributed programs, rather than high-level models.

Today, the formal verification of a new algorithm is typically the subject of a PhD thesis, if it is addressed at all. This situation is not sustainable given the move towards more and more parallelism in mainstream systems: algorithm developers and system designers must be able to productively use verification tools for validating their algorithms and implementations. On a high level, the goal of VeriDis is to make formal verification standard practice for the development of distributed algorithms and systems, just as symbolic model checking has become commonplace in the development of embedded systems and as security analysis for cryptographic protocols is becoming standard practice today. Although the fundamental problems in distributed programming are well-known, they pose new challenges in the context of modern system paradigms, including ad-hoc and overlay networks or peer-to-peer systems, and they must be integrated for concrete applications.