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Designing Programs That Check Their Work
, 1989
"... A program correctness checker is an algorithm for checking the output of a computation. That is, given a program and an instance on which the program is run, the checker certifies whether the output of the program on that instance is correct. This paper defines the concept of a program checker. It d ..."
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Cited by 307 (17 self)
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A program correctness checker is an algorithm for checking the output of a computation. That is, given a program and an instance on which the program is run, the checker certifies whether the output of the program on that instance is correct. This paper defines the concept of a program checker. It designs program checkers for a few specific and carefully chosen problems in the class FP of functions computable in polynomial time. Problems in FP for which checkers are presented in this paper include Sorting, Matrix Rank and GCD. It also applies methods of modern cryptography, especially the idea of a probabilistic interactive proof, to the design of program checkers for group theoretic computations. Two strucural theorems are proven here. One is a characterization of problems that can be checked. The other theorem establishes equivalence classes of problems such that whenever one problem in a class is checkable, all problems in the class are checkable.
Seven More Myths of Formal Methods
 IEEE SOFTWARE
, 1995
"... In 1990, Anthony Hall published a seminal article that listed and dispelled seven myths about the nature and application of formal methods. Today  five years and many successful applications later  formal methods remain one of the most contentious areas of softwareengineering practice.
Despite 25 ..."
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Cited by 107 (16 self)
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In 1990, Anthony Hall published a seminal article that listed and dispelled seven myths about the nature and application of formal methods. Today  five years and many successful applications later  formal methods remain one of the most contentious areas of softwareengineering practice.
Despite 25 years of use, few people understand exactly what formal methods are or how they are applied. Many nonformalists seem to believe that formal methods are merely an academic exercise  a form of mental masturbation that has no relation to realworld problems. The media's portrayal of formal methods does little to help the situation. In many "popular press" science journals, formal methods are subjected to either deep criticism or, worse, extreme hyperbole. Fortunately, today these myths are held more by the public and the computerscience community at large than by system developers. It is our concern, however, that new myths are being propagated, and more alarmingly, are receiving a certain tacit acceptance from the systemdevelopment community.
Following Hall's lead, we address and dispel seven new myths about formal methods: Formal methods delay the development process; formal methods lack tools; formal methods replace traditional engineering design methods; formal methods only apply to software; formal methods are unnecessary; formal methods are not supported; and formalmethods people always use formal methods.
Computeraided verification
 IEEE Spectrum
, 1996
"... How can a computer program developer ensure that a program actually implements its intended purpose? This article describes a method for checking the correctness of certain types of computer programs. The method is used commercially in the development of programs implemented as integrated circuits a ..."
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Cited by 95 (2 self)
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How can a computer program developer ensure that a program actually implements its intended purpose? This article describes a method for checking the correctness of certain types of computer programs. The method is used commercially in the development of programs implemented as integrated circuits and is applicable to the development of “controlintensive ” software programs as well. “Divideandconquer ” techniques central to this method apply to a broad range of program verification methodologies. Classical methods for testing and quality control no longer are sufficient to protect us from communication network collapses, fatalities from medical machinery malfunction, rocket guidance failure, or a halfbillion dollar commercial loss due to incorrect arithmetic in a popular integrated circuit. These sensational examples are only the headline cases. Behind them are multitudes of mundane programs whose failures merely infuriate their users and cause increased costs to their producers. A source of such problems is the growth in program complexity. The more a program controls, the more types of interactions it supports. For example, the telephone “callforwarding ” service (forwarding incoming calls to a customerdesignated number) interacts with the “billing ” program that must determine whether the forwarding number or the calling number gets charged for the additional connection to the customerdesignated number. At the same time, callforwarding interacts with the “connection ” program that deals with the issue of
Ten Commandments of Formal Methods
 IEEE COMPUTER
, 1994
"... The formal methods community is in general very good at undertaking research into the mathematical aspects of formal methods, but not so good at promulgating the use of formal methods in an engineering environment and at an industrial scale. Technology transfer is an extremely important part of the ..."
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Cited by 89 (10 self)
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The formal methods community is in general very good at undertaking research into the mathematical aspects of formal methods, but not so good at promulgating the use of formal methods in an engineering environment and at an industrial scale. Technology transfer is an extremely important part of the overall effort necessary in the acceptance of formal techniques. This paper explores some of the more informal aspects of applying formal methods and presents some maxims with associated discussion that may help in the application of formal methods in an industrial setting. A significant bibliography is included, providing pointers to more technical and detailed aspects.
Validation of ultrahigh dependability for softwarebased systems
 Communications of the ACM
, 1993
"... Modern society depends on computers for a number of critical tasks in which failure can have very high costs. As a consequence, high levels of dependability (reliability, safety, etc.) are required from such computers, including their software. Whenever a quantitative approach to risk is adopted, th ..."
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Cited by 87 (21 self)
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Modern society depends on computers for a number of critical tasks in which failure can have very high costs. As a consequence, high levels of dependability (reliability, safety, etc.) are required from such computers, including their software. Whenever a quantitative approach to risk is adopted, these requirements must be stated in quantitative terms, and a rigorous demonstration of their being attained is necessary. For software used in the most critical roles, such demonstrations are not usually supplied. The fact is that the dependability requirements often lie near the limit of the current state of the art, or beyond, in terms not only of the ability to satisfy them, but also, and more often, of the ability to demonstrate that they are satisfied in the individual operational products (validation). We discuss reasons why such demonstrations cannot usually be provided with the means available: reliability growth models, testing with stable reliability, structural dependability modelling, as well as more informal arguments based on good engineering practice. We state some rigorous arguments about the limits of what can be validated with each of such means. Combining evidence from these different sources would seem to raise the levels that can be validated; yet this improvement is not such as to solve the problem. It appears that engineering practice must take into account the fact that no solution exists, at present, for the validation of ultrahigh dependability in systems relying on complex software.
Transparent Proofs and Limits to Approximation
, 1994
"... We survey a major collective accomplishment of the theoretical computer science community on efficiently verifiable proofs. Informally, a formal proof is transparent (or holographic) if it can be verified with large confidence by a small number of spotchecks. Recent work by a large group of researc ..."
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Cited by 17 (0 self)
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We survey a major collective accomplishment of the theoretical computer science community on efficiently verifiable proofs. Informally, a formal proof is transparent (or holographic) if it can be verified with large confidence by a small number of spotchecks. Recent work by a large group of researchers has shown that this seemingly paradoxical concept can be formalized and is feasible in a remarkably strong sense; every formal proof in ZF, say, can be rewritten in transparent format (proving the same theorem in a different proof system) without increasing the length of the proof by too much. This result in turn has surprising implications for the intractability of approximate solutions of a wide range of discrete optimization problems, extending the pessimistic predictions of the PNP theory to approximate solvability. We discuss the main results on transparent proofs and their implications to discrete optimization. We give an account of several links between the two subjects as well ...
Seven More Myths of Formal Methods: Dispelling Industrial Prejudices
 FME'94: INDUSTRIAL BENEFIT OF FORMAL METHODS, PAGES 105117. LNCS 873
, 1994
"... For whatever reason, formal methods remain one of the more contentious techniques in industrial software engineering. Despite some improvement in the uptake of formal methods, it is still the case that the vast majority of potential users of formal methods fail to become actual users. A paper by ..."
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Cited by 14 (0 self)
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For whatever reason, formal methods remain one of the more contentious techniques in industrial software engineering. Despite some improvement in the uptake of formal methods, it is still the case that the vast majority of potential users of formal methods fail to become actual users. A paper by Hall in 1990 [31] examined a number of `myths' concerning formal methods, assumed by some to be valid. This paper considers a few more beliefs held by many and presents some counter examples.
Tossing Algebraic Flowers down the Great Divide
 In People and Ideas in Theoretical Computer Science
, 1999
"... Data Types and Algebraic Semantics The history of programming languages, and to a large extent of software engineering as a whole, can be seen as a succession of ever more powerful abstraction mechanisms. The first stored program computers were programmed in binary, which soon gave way to assembly l ..."
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Cited by 3 (0 self)
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Data Types and Algebraic Semantics The history of programming languages, and to a large extent of software engineering as a whole, can be seen as a succession of ever more powerful abstraction mechanisms. The first stored program computers were programmed in binary, which soon gave way to assembly languages that allowed symbolic codes for operations and addresses. fortran began the spread of "high level" programming languages, though at the time it was strongly opposed by many assembly programmers; important features that developed later include blocks, recursive procedures, flexible types, classes, inheritance, modules, and genericity. Without going into the philosophical problems raised by abstraction (which in view of the discussion of realism in Section 4 may be considerable), it seems clear that the mathematics used to describe programming concepts should in general get more abstract as the programming concepts get more abstract. Nevertheless, there has been great resistance to u...
Representing Nuprl Proof Objects in ACL2: toward a proof checker for Nuprl
, 2002
"... Stipulations on the correctness of proofs produced in a formal system include that the axioms and proof rules are the intended ones and that the proof has been properly constructed (i.e. it is a correct instantiation of the axioms and proof rules.) In software implementations of formal systems, ..."
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Cited by 2 (0 self)
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Stipulations on the correctness of proofs produced in a formal system include that the axioms and proof rules are the intended ones and that the proof has been properly constructed (i.e. it is a correct instantiation of the axioms and proof rules.) In software implementations of formal systems, correctness additionally depends both on the correctness of the program implementing the system and on the hardware it is executed on. Once we implement a system in software and execute it on a computer, we have moved from the abstract world of mathematics into the physical world; absolute correctness can never be achieved here. We can only strive to increase our confidence that the system is producing correct results. In the process of creating proofs, foundational systems like Nuprl construct formal proof objects. These proof objects can be independently checked to verify they are correct instantiations of the axioms and proof rules thereby increasing confidence that the putative proof object faithfully represents a proof in the formal system. Note that this kind of proof checking does not address issues related to the models of the proof system, it simply provides more evidence that a proof has been correctly constructed. The Nuprl implementation consists of more than 100K lines of Lisp and tactic code implemented in ML. Although parts of the system consist of legacy codes going as far back as the late 1970's (Edinburgh LCF), and even though the Nuprl system has been extensively used since 1986 in formalizing a significant body of mathematics, the chances that the implementation is correct are slim. Verifying the system itself is infeasible, instead we propose to increase confidence in Nuprl proofs by independently checking them in ACL2. In this paper...
1001 Reasons for not Proving Programs Correct: A Survey
 Computer Science Dept, Clemson University, steve@wayne.cs.clemson.edu
, 1990
"... this article is taken as the beginning of the "verificationist" movement. In another article [30], Hoare proposed that the program and the proof of correctness could be developed simultaneously. The basic program verification or program correctness concepts are simple to present. Suppose we have pro ..."
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this article is taken as the beginning of the "verificationist" movement. In another article [30], Hoare proposed that the program and the proof of correctness could be developed simultaneously. The basic program verification or program correctness concepts are simple to present. Suppose we have program P written in some programming language. This program is supposed to compute some final values, say F, given some initial values, say I. I is called an input specification and F is called an output specification. A program may or may not terminate for a given argument. A program which terminates for every possible input value and always computes the prescribed answer is called totally correct, or just correct. A program which, if it terminates, does indeed compute the correct answer is called partially correct [45]. There have been several approaches to verification proposed. For this paper, we need not delve into these different approaches. There are many texts in this area and several are listed in the bibliography [5, 21, 22, 45]. In principle, it seems that the concepts of program proofs should be straightforward and relatively easy to apply. The hope has been to put programming on some firm, logical basis. Proponents of this approach to programming point to the use of proofs in mathematics. By suitably defining the actions of the programming language (now part of programming language semantics) and proper specification of the input and output (now formal methods of specification), every program would have a proof of correctness.Unfortunately, the verification technology has been disappointing. By 1979, several important advances in verification technology had taken place; e. g., Manna [ 38]and Manna and Pneuli [38] as well as many contributions by Hoare [31]. In 1979...