Section: Research Program

New Formal Languages and their Concurrent Implementations

We aim at proposing and implementing new formal languages for the specification, implementation, and verification of concurrent systems. In order to provide a complete, coherent methodological framework, two research directions must be addressed:

  • Model-based specifications: these are operational (i.e., constructive) descriptions of systems, usually expressed in terms of processes that execute concurrently, synchronize together and communicate. Process calculi are typical examples of model-based specification languages. The approach we promote is based on LOTOS NT (LNT for short), a formal specification language that incorporates most constructs stemming from classical programming languages, which eases its acceptance by students and industry engineers. LNT [5] is derived from the ISO standard E-LOTOS (2001), of which it represents the first successful implementation, based on a source-level translation from LNT to the former ISO standard LOTOS (1989). We are working both on the semantic foundations of LNT (enhancing the language with module interfaces and timed/probabilistic/stochastic features, compiling the m among n synchronization, etc.) and on the generation of efficient parallel and distributed code. Once equipped with these features, LNT will enable formally verified asynchronous concurrent designs to be implemented automatically.

  • Property-based specifications: these are declarative (i.e., non-constructive) descriptions of systems, which express what a system should do rather than how the system should do it. Temporal logics and μ-calculi are typical examples of property-based specification languages. The natural models underlying value-passing specification languages, such as LNT, are Labeled Transition Systems (LTSs or simply graphs) in which the transitions between states are labeled by actions containing data values exchanged during handshake communications. In order to reason accurately about these LTSs, temporal logics involving data values are necessary. The approach we promote is based on MCL (Model Checking Language) [55], which extends the modal μ-calculus with data-handling primitives, fairness operators encoding generalized Büchi automata, and a functional-like language for describing complex transition sequences. We are working both on the semantic foundations of MCL (extending the language with new temporal and hybrid operators, translating these operators into lower-level formalisms, enhancing the type system, etc.) and also on improving the MCL on-the-fly model checking technology (devising new algorithms, enhancing ergonomy by detecting and reporting vacuity, etc.).

We address these two directions simultaneously, yet in a coherent manner, with a particular focus on applicable concurrent code generation and computer-aided verification.