Applications of lattice theory to model checking
MetadataShow full item record
Society is increasingly dependent on the correct operation of concurrent and distributed software systems. Examples of such systems include computer networks, operating systems, telephone switches and flight control systems. Model checking is a useful tool for ensuring the correctness of such systems, because it is a fully automatic technique whose use does not require expert knowledge. Additionally, model checking allows for the production of error trails when a violation of a desired property is detected. Error trails are an invaluable debugging aid, because they provide the programmer with the sequence of events that lead to an error. Model checking typically operates by performing an exhaustive exploration of the state space of the program. Exhaustive state space exploration is not practical for industrial use in the verification of concurrent systems because of the well-known phenomenon of state space explosion caused by the exploration of all possible interleavings of concurrent events. However, the exploration of all possible interleavings is not always necessary for verification. In this dissertation, we show that results from lattice theory can be applied to ameliorate state space explosion due to concurrency, and to produce short error trails when an error is detected. We show that many CTL formulae exhibit lattice-theoretic structure that can be exploited to avoid exploring multiple interleavings of a set of concurrent events. We use this structural information to develop efficient model checking techniques for both implicit (partial order) and explicit (interleaving) models of the state space. For formulae that do not exhibit the required structure, we present a technique called predicate filtering, which uses a weaker property with the desired structural characteristics to obtain a reduced state space which can then be exhaustively explored. We also show that lattice theory can be used to obtain a path of shortest length to an error state, thereby producing short error trails that greatly ease the task of debugging. We provide experimental results from a wide range of examples, showing the effectiveness of our techniques at improving the efficiency of verifying and debugging concurrent and distributed systems. Our implementation is based on the popular model checker SPIN, and we compare our performance against the state-of-the-art state space reduction strategies implemented in SPIN.