Techniques and Tools for the Verification of Concurrent Systems


Model checking is an automatic formal verification technique for establishing correctness of systems. It has been widely used in industry for analysing and verifying complex safety-critical systems in application domains such as avionics, medicine and computer security, where manual testing is infeasible and even minor errors could have dire consequences.

In our increasingly parallelised world, concurrency has become pivotal and seamlessly woven within programming paradigms, however, extremely challenging when it comes to modelling and establishing correctness of intended behaviour. Tools for model checking concurrent systems face severe limitations due to scalability problems arising from the need to examine all possible interleavings (schedules) of executions of parallel components. Moreover, concurrency poses additional challenges to model checking, giving rise to phenomena such as nondeterminism, deadlock, livelock, etc.

In this thesis we focus on adapting and developing novel model-checking techniques for concurrent systems in the setting of the process algebra CSP and its primary model checker FDR. CSP allows for a compact modelling and precise analysis of event-based concurrency, grounded on synchronous message passing as a fundamental mechanism of inter-component communication. In particular, we investigate techniques based on symbolic model checking, static analysis and abstraction, all of them exploiting the compositionality inherent in CSP and targeting to increase the scale of systems that can be tractably analysed.

Firstly, we investigate symbolic model-checking techniques based on Boolean satisfiability (SAT), which we adapt for the traces model of CSP. We tailor bounded model checking (BMC), that can be used for bug detection, and temporal k-induction, which aims at establishing inductiveness of properties and is capable of both bug finding and establishing the correctness of systems.

Secondly, we propose a static analysis framework for establishing livelock freedom of CSP processes, with lessons for other concurrent formalisms. As opposed to traditional exhaustive state-space exploration, our framework employs a system of rules on the syntax of a process to calculate a sound approximation of its fair/co-fair sets of events. The rules either safely classify a process as livelock-free or report inconclusiveness, thereby trading accuracy for speed.

Finally, we develop a series of abstraction/refinement schemes for the traces, stable-failures and failures-divergences models of CSP and embed them into a fully automated and compositional CEGAR framework.

For each of those techniques we present an implementation and an experimental evaluation on a set of CSP benchmarks.