Section: Application Domains
Program debugging and verification
Catching bugs in programs is difficult and time-consuming. The effort of debugging and proving correct even small units of code can surpass the effort of programming. Bugs inserted while “programming in the small” can have dramatic consequences for the consistency of a whole software system as shown, e.g., by viruses which can spread by exploiting buffer overflows, a bug which typically arises while coding a small portion of code. To detect this kind of errors, many verification techniques have been put forward such as static analysis and software model checking.
Recently, in the program verification community, there seems to be a growing demand for more declarative approaches in order to make the results of the analysis readily available to the end user (See, for example, the challenge at http://research.microsoft.com/specncheck/consel_challenge.htm .). To meet this requirement, a growing number of program verification tools integrate some form of theorem proving.
The goals of our research are twofold. First, we perform theoretical investigations of various combinations of propositional and first-order satisfiability checking in order to automate the theorem proving activity required to solve a large class of program analysis problems which can be encoded as first-order formulae. Second, we experimentally investigate how our techniques behave on real problems so to make program analysis more precise and scalable. Building tools capable of providing a good balance between precision and scalability is one of the crucial challenges to transfer theorem proving technology to the industrial domains.