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Formal Methods: State of the Art and Future Directions

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Cliff Jones

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Abstract

Hardware and software systems will inevitably grow in scale and functionality. Because of this increase in complexity, the likelihood of subtle errors is much greater. Moreover, some of these errors may cause catastrophic loss of money, time, or even human life. A major goal of software engineering is to enable developers to construct systems that operate reliably despite this complexity. One way of achieving this goal is by using formal methods, which are mathematically based languages, techniques, and tools for specifying and verifying such systems. Use of formal methods does not a priori guarantee correctness. However, they can greatly increase our understanding of a system by revealing inconsistencies, ambiguities, and incompleteness that might otherwise go undetected. The first part of this report assesses the state of the art in specification and verification. For verification, we highlight advances in model checking and theorem proving. In the three sections on specification, model checking, and theorem proving, we explain what we mean by the general technique and briefly describe some successful case studies and well-known tools. The second part of this report outlines future directions in fundamental concepts, new methods and tools, integration of methods, and education and technology transfer. We close with summary remarks and pointers to resources for more information.


Publication metadata

Author(s): Clarke EM, Wing JM, et al

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: ACM Computing Surveys

Year: 1996

Volume: 28

Issue: 4

Pages: 626-643

Print publication date: 01/01/1996

ISSN (print): 0360-0300

Publisher: ACM

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/242223.242257

DOI: 10.1145/242223.242257

Notes: Cliff Jones was a member of the Working Group who prepared this report.


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