Overall Objectives
Research Program
Application Domains
Highlights of the Year
New Software and Platforms
New Results
Bilateral Contracts and Grants with Industry
Partnerships and Cooperations
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Section: New Results

Formal Methods for Developing Algorithms and Systems

Participants : Manamiary Andriamiarina, Noran Azmy, Gabriel Corona, Marie Duflot-Kremer, Marion Guthmuller, Souad Kherroubi, Dominique Méry, Stephan Merz, Martin Quinson, Christoph Weidenbach.

Incremental Development of Distributed Algorithms

Joint work with Mike Poppleton, University of Southampton, UK, and with Neeraj Kumar Singh from the Department of Computing and Software, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada.

The development of distributed algorithms and, more generally, of distributed systems, is a complex, delicate, and challenging process. The approach based on refinement helps to gain formality by using a proof assistant, and proposes to apply a design methodology that starts from the most abstract model and leads, in an incremental way, to the most concrete model, for producing a distributed solution. Our work helps formalizing pre-existing algorithms, developing new algorithms, as well as developing models for distributed systems.

More concretely, we aim at an integration of the correct-by-construction refinement-based approach for distributed algorithms. Our main results during 2015 are:

Modeling Medical Devices

Joint work with Neeraj Kumar Singh from the Department of Computing and Software, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada.

Formal modeling techniques and tools have attained sufficient maturity for formalizing highly critical systems in view of improving their quality and reliability, and the development of such methods has attracted the interest of industrial partners and academic research institutions. Building high quality and zero-defect medical software-based devices is a particular domain where formal modelling techniques can be applied effectively. Medical devices are very prone to showing unexpected system behaviour in operation when traditional methods are used for system testing. Device-related problems have been responsible for a large number of serious injuries. Officials of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that many deaths and injuries related to these devices are caused by flaws in product design and engineering. Cardiac pacemakers and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) are among the most critical medical devices and require closed-loop modelling (integrated system and environment modelling) for verification purposes before obtaining a certificate from the certification bodies.

Clinical guidelines systematically assist practitioners in providing appropriate health care in specific clinical circumstances. Today, a significant number of guidelines and protocols are lacking in quality. Indeed, ambiguity and incompleteness are likely anomalies in medical practice. The analysis of guidelines using formal methods is a promising approach for improving them.

Analyzing requirements is a major challenge in the area of safety- critical software, where the quality of requirements is an important issue for building a dependable critical system. Many projects fail due to lack of understanding of user needs, missing functional and non-functional system requirements, inadequate methods and tools, and inconsistent system specifications. This often results from the poor quality of system requirements. Based on our experience and knowledge, an environment model has been recognized to be a promising approach to support the requirements engineering to validate a system specification. It is crucial to get an approval and feedback at an early stage of the system development to guarantee the completeness and correctness of the requirements. In [29] , we propose a method for analyzing the system requirements using closed-loop modelling technique. The closed-loop model in an integration of system model and environment model, where both the system and environment models are formalized using formal techniques. Formal verification of this closed-loop model helps to identify hidden or missing system requirements and peculiar behaviours, which are not covered earlier during requirements elicitation process. Moreover, the environment model assists in the construction, clarification, and validation of a given system requirements.

Verification of the Pastry routing protocol

In his PhD thesis at Saarbrücken University in 2013, Tianxiang Lu had studied the routing protocol of the Pastry algorithm [69] for maintaining a distributed hash table in a peer-to-peer network. He had discovered several problems in the published algorithm and proposed a modification of the protocol, together with a correctness proof under the hypothesis that no node ever disconnects. The proof had been checked using TLAPS, but it made many assumptions on the underlying data structures that were left unchecked. In particular, support for (modulus) arithmetic in TLAPS was too weak at the time when the proof was written.

As part of her PhD thesis, Noran Azmy studied the assumptions that had been left unproved, and found that several of them were not valid. As a consequence, she was able to find a counter-example to one of the invariants underlying the correctness proof. She corrected the assumptions, proved all of the ones that were needed for the proof using the current version of TLAPS, and also introduced higher-level abstractions that allowed her to rewrite the specification and the correctness proof of the routing protocol in a way that avoids low-level arithmetic reasoning throughout the proof. As a result, she obtained a complete machine-checked proof of Lu's variant of Pastry, still under the assumption that no node leaves the network. A paper describing the result is being submitted.

Proof of Determinacy of PharOS

Joint work with Selma Azaiez and Matthieu Lemerre (CEA Saclay), and Damien Doligez (Inria Paris).

The main contribution of our team to the ADN4SE project (section 8.1 ), in cooperation with colleagues from CEA, was to write a high-level specification of the real-time operating system PharOS in the TLA+ language, and to prove a determinacy property of the model using TLAPS. Roughly speaking, determinacy means that the sequence of local states of each process during a computation does not depend on the order in which processes are scheduled, as long as there are no missed deadlines. This property simplifies the analysis and verification of programs that run on PharOS. It relies on the fact that every instruction is associated with a time window of execution, and a message can only be received by an instruction if the earliest possible execution time of that instruction is later than the latest possible execution time of the instruction sending the message. The model and proof are based on Lemerre et al. [65] . However, the underlying assumptions are made fully explicit in the formal model, and the proof is carried out in assertional rather than behavioral style. The proof was completed in 2015, and a paper describing the result is being submitted.

Formal Development of Component Semantics in B

Joint work with David Déharbe of Universidade Federal do Rio Grande de Norte (UFRN), Brazil.

We develop a formal model in Isabelle/HOL of the behavioral semantics of software components designed with the B method. We formalize semantic objects, based on labeled transition systems, notions of internal and externally visible behavior, and simulation. In particular, we study a variant of simulation that corresponds to refinement in the B method. We also formally represent the composition of components in the B method. This work was presented at an invited talk at FACS 2015 in Rio de Janeiro, and an article will be published in LNCS.

Analysis of Distributed Legacy Applications

SimGrid is a toolkit for the study of Large-Scale Distributed Systems. It contains both a simulator with sound and validated performance models for the network, CPUs, and disks, but also an explicit model checker exploring all possible message interleavings in the application, and searching for states violating some properties specified by the user.

We recently added the ability to assess liveness properties over arbitrary and legacy codes, thanks to a system-level introspection tool that provides a detailed view of the running application to the model checker. This can for example be leveraged to verify both safety and liveness properties, on arbitrary MPI code written in C, C++ or Fortran. This work has been published in the Workshop on Formal Approaches to Parallel and Distributed Systems (4PAD) [26] , while the full details appear in Guthmuller's PhD thesis [12] .

In his master project, Gabriel Rodrigues Santos investigated the feasibility of implementing algorithms for statistical model checking within SimGrid. The basic idea is to sample sufficiently many executions of a program, based on probabilistic parameters associated with the execution platform, for quantifying correctness and reliability properties. By construction, the answers obtained in this way are not exact, but their imprecision can be bounded by an interval of confidence. The results are very encouraging, and we intend to pursue this approach in further work.

Evaluating and Verifying Probabilistic Systems

Joint work with colleagues at ENS Cachan, University Paris Est Créteil, and Ecole Centrale Paris.

Since its introduction in the 1980s, model checking has become a prominent technique for the verification of complex systems. The aim was to decide whether or not a system fulfills its specification. With the rise of probabilistic systems, new techniques have been designed to verify this new type of systems, and appropriate logics have been proposed to describe more subtle properties to be verified. However, some characteristics of such systems fall outside the scope of model checking. In particular, it is often of interest not to decide wether a property is satisfied but how well the system performs with respect to a certain measure. We have designed a statistical tool for tackling both performance and verification issues. Following several conference talks, two journal papers have been published. The first one [14] presents the approach in details together with illustrative applications to flexible manufacturing systems, and to the study of a biological mechanism knwon as circadian clock. The second one [15] focuses on biological applications, and more precisely the use of statistical model checking to detect and measure several indicators of oscillating biological systems.