Section: Research Program

Automated and Interactive Theorem Proving

The VeriDis team gathers experts in techniques and tools for automatic deduction and interactive theorem proving, and specialists in methods and formalisms designed for the development of trustworthy concurrent and distributed systems and algorithms. Our common objective is twofold: first, we wish to advance the state of the art in automated and interactive theorem proving, and their combinations. Second, we work on making the resulting technology available for the computer-aided verification of distributed systems and protocols. In particular, our techniques and tools are intended to support sound methods for the development of trustworthy distributed systems that scale to algorithms relevant for practical applications.

VeriDis members from Saarbrücken are developing the Spass  [10] workbench. It currently consists of one of the leading automated theorem provers for first-order logic based on the superposition calculus [56] and a theory solver for linear arithmetic.

In a complementary approach to automated deduction, VeriDis members from Nancy work on techniques for integrating reasoners for specific theories. They develop veriT [1], an SMT (Satisfiability Modulo Theories [58]) solver that combines decision procedures for different fragments of first-order logic. The veriT solver is designed to produce detailed proofs; this makes it particularly suitable as a component of a robust cooperation of deduction tools.

Finally, VeriDis members design effective quantifier elimination methods and decision procedures for algebraic theories, supported by their efficient implementation in the Redlog system [4].

An important objective of this line of work is the integration of theories in automated deduction. Typical theories of interest, including fragments of arithmetic, are difficult or impossible to express in first-order logic. We therefore explore efficient, modular techniques for integrating semantic and syntactic reasoning methods, develop novel combination results and techniques for quantifier instantiation. These problems are addressed from both sides, i.e. by embedding decision procedures into the superposition framework or by allowing an SMT solver to accept axiomatizations for plug-in theories. We also develop specific decision procedures for theories such as non-linear real arithmetic that are important when reasoning about certain classes of (e.g., real-time) systems but that also have interesting applications beyond verification.

We rely on interactive theorem provers for reasoning about specifications at a high level of abstraction when fully automatic verification is not (yet) feasible. An interactive proof platform should help verification engineers lay out the proof structure at a sufficiently high level of abstraction; powerful automatic plug-ins should then discharge the resulting proof steps. Members of VeriDis have ample experience in the specification and subsequent machine-assisted, interactive verification of algorithms. In particular, we participate in a project at the joint Microsoft Research-Inria Centre on the development of methods and tools for the formal proof of TLA+ [66] specifications. Our prover relies on a declarative proof language, and calls upon several automatic backends [3]. Trust in the correctness of the overall proof can be ensured when the backends provide justifications that can be checked by the trusted kernel of a proof assistant. During the development of a proof, most obligations that are passed to the prover actually fail – for example, because necessary information is not present in the context or because the invariant is too weak, and we are interested in explaining failed proof attempts to the user, in particular through the construction of counter-models.