Re: [SystemSafety] Scalability of Formal Methods [was: Logic]

From: David Crocker < >
Date: Thu, 27 Feb 2014 15:39:40 +0000

I've always considered that the role of testing is fundamentally different when software is developed using a correct-by-construction approach that formally proves that the code satisfies the software requirements.

This approach uses a chain of tools (formal verification tools, compiler, linker, etc.) and hardware, each of which be believe produces output that has a defined relationship to the input. For example, the formal tool provides proof that the source code meets the requirements; the compiler produces object code that faithfully implements the semantics of the source code in the target instruction set; and the hardware faithfully implements that instruction set. We further believe that we have combined these tools and hardware in a process such that if they all function correctly, the target system must meet the requirements.

The purpose of testing is to challenge those beliefs and ultimately establish confidence in them. If even one test fails, then there is a problem in one of the tools, or the hardware, or the process. So when a test fails, we don't just treat it as a bug that needs fixing, we must establish which tool or hardware or part of the process is at fault, and correct it so that it can't happen again.

Of course, in practice some sorts of test may also expose deficiencies in the original specification.

David Crocker, Escher Technologies Ltd.
Tel. +44 (0)20 8144 3265 or +44 (0)7977 211486

On 27/02/2014 11:27, Patrick Graydon wrote:
> It has occurred to me that the ideal testing to complement proof that
> source code refines a specification might /not/ be the same mix of
> testing that we recommend where formal methods are not used. If, in
> these cases, we are mainly want testing so that we can find
> compiler-introduced defects and ways in which the real chips donít
> behave as the instruction set manual says they should, perhaps testing
> to achieve coverage of the instruction set would find more bugs or
> more bugs per testing dollar than, say, achieving MC/DC. I donít have
> the answer here; I donít even know the complete list of types of
> defects Iíd want the testing to find in these cases. Itís a bit of a
> cliche, but it might be that more research is needed here. Is that
> clearer?

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systemsafety_at_xxxxxx Received on Thu Feb 27 2014 - 16:39:56 CET

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