20th International Conference on Tools and Algorithms for the Construction and Analysis of Systems (TACAS 2014)


Editors: Erika Abraham, Klaus Havelund

This special issue of the journal Logical Methods in Computer Science (LMCS) contains revised and extended versions of seven papers presented at the 20th International Conference on Tools and Algorithms for the Construction and Analysis of Systems (TACAS'14), held in Grenoble, France during April 7-11, 2014, as part of the Joint European Conferences on Theory and Practice of Software (ETAPS).

TACAS is a forum for researchers, developers, and users interested in rigorously based tools and algorithms for the construction and analysis of systems. The research areas covered by TACAS include, but are not limited to, formal methods, software and hardware specification and verification, static analysis, dynamic analysis, model checking, theorem proving, decision procedures, real-time, hybrid and stochastic systems, communication protocols, programming languages, and software engineering. TACAS provides a venue where common problems, heuristics, algorithms, data structures, and methodologies in these areas can be discussed and explored.

The papers collected in this special issue have been invited by the guest editors amongst the top papers presented at TACAS'14 based on their relevance to LMCS. We are grateful to all authors for their contributions and to the reviewers of TACAS'14 and of this special issue for their thorough and valuable work.

Erika Ábrahám and Klaus Havelund
Special Issue Editors TACAS’14

1. Ranking Templates for Linear Loops

Leike, Jan ; Heizmann, Matthias.
We present a new method for the constraint-based synthesis of termination arguments for linear loop programs based on linear ranking templates. Linear ranking templates are parameterized, well-founded relations such that an assignment to the parameters gives rise to a ranking function. Our approach generalizes existing methods and enables us to use templates for many different ranking functions with affine-linear components. We discuss templates for multiphase, nested, piecewise, parallel, and lexicographic ranking functions. These ranking templates can be combined to form more powerful templates. Because these ranking templates require both strict and non-strict inequalities, we use Motzkin's transposition theorem instead of Farkas' lemma to transform the generated $\exists\forall$-constraint into an $\exists$-constraint.

2. Permissive Controller Synthesis for Probabilistic Systems

Drager, Klaus ; Forejt, Vojtech ; Kwiatkowska, Marta ; Parker, David ; Ujma, Mateusz.
We propose novel controller synthesis techniques for probabilistic systems modelled using stochastic two-player games: one player acts as a controller, the second represents its environment, and probability is used to capture uncertainty arising due to, for example, unreliable sensors or faulty system components. Our aim is to generate robust controllers that are resilient to unexpected system changes at runtime, and flexible enough to be adapted if additional constraints need to be imposed. We develop a permissive controller synthesis framework, which generates multi-strategies for the controller, offering a choice of control actions to take at each time step. We formalise the notion of permissivity using penalties, which are incurred each time a possible control action is disallowed by a multi-strategy. Permissive controller synthesis aims to generate a multi-strategy that minimises these penalties, whilst guaranteeing the satisfaction of a specified system property. We establish […]

3. Quantitative Approximation of the Probability Distribution of a Markov Process by Formal Abstractions

Soudjani, Sadegh Esmaeil Zadeh ; Abate, Alessandro.
The goal of this work is to formally abstract a Markov process evolving in discrete time over a general state space as a finite-state Markov chain, with the objective of precisely approximating its state probability distribution in time, which allows for its approximate, faster computation by that of the Markov chain. The approach is based on formal abstractions and employs an arbitrary finite partition of the state space of the Markov process, and the computation of average transition probabilities between partition sets. The abstraction technique is formal, in that it comes with guarantees on the introduced approximation that depend on the diameters of the partitions: as such, they can be tuned at will. Further in the case of Markov processes with unbounded state spaces, a procedure for precisely truncating the state space within a compact set is provided, together with an error bound that depends on the asymptotic properties of the transition kernel of the original process. […]

4. Detecting Unrealizability of Distributed Fault-tolerant Systems

Finkbeiner, Bernd ; Tentrup, Leander.
Writing formal specifications for distributed systems is difficult. Even simple consistency requirements often turn out to be unrealizable because of the complicated information flow in the distributed system: not all information is available in every component, and information transmitted from other components may arrive with a delay or not at all, especially in the presence of faults. The problem of checking the distributed realizability of a temporal specification is, in general, undecidable. Semi-algorithms for synthesis, such as bounded synthesis, are only useful in the positive case, where they construct an implementation for a realizable specification, but not in the negative case: if the specification is unrealizable, the search for the implementation never terminates. In this paper, we introduce counterexamples to distributed realizability and present a method for the detection of such counterexamples for specifications given in linear-time temporal logic (LTL). […]

5. Learning Regular Languages over Large Ordered Alphabets

Mens, Irini-Eleftheria ; Maler, Oded.
This work is concerned with regular languages defined over large alphabets, either infinite or just too large to be expressed enumeratively. We define a generic model where transitions are labeled by elements of a finite partition of the alphabet. We then extend Angluin's L* algorithm for learning regular languages from examples for such automata. We have implemented this algorithm and we demonstrate its behavior where the alphabet is a subset of the natural or real numbers. We sketch the extension of the algorithm to a class of languages over partially ordered alphabets.

6. Compositional Verification for Timed Systems Based on Automatic Invariant Generation

Astefanoaei, Lacramioara ; Rayana, Souha Ben ; Bensalem, Saddek ; Bozga, Marius ; Combaz, Jacques.
We propose a method for compositional verification to address the state space explosion problem inherent to model-checking timed systems with a large number of components. The main challenge is to obtain pertinent global timing constraints from the timings in the components alone. To this end, we make use of auxiliary clocks to automatically generate new invariants which capture the constraints induced by the synchronisations between components. The method has been implemented in the RTD-Finder tool and successfully experimented on several benchmarks.

7. Formal Design of Asynchronous Fault Detection and Identification Components using Temporal Epistemic Logic

Bozzano, Marco ; Cimatti, Alessandro ; Gario, Marco ; Tonetta, Stefano.
Autonomous critical systems, such as satellites and space rovers, must be able to detect the occurrence of faults in order to ensure correct operation. This task is carried out by Fault Detection and Identification (FDI) components, that are embedded in those systems and are in charge of detecting faults in an automated and timely manner by reading data from sensors and triggering predefined alarms. The design of effective FDI components is an extremely hard problem, also due to the lack of a complete theoretical foundation, and of precise specification and validation techniques. In this paper, we present the first formal approach to the design of FDI components for discrete event systems, both in a synchronous and asynchronous setting. We propose a logical language for the specification of FDI requirements that accounts for a wide class of practical cases, and includes novel aspects such as maximality and trace-diagnosability. The language is equipped with a clear semantics based on […]