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Re: [NOISE] was Re: java security concerns
> Did you also send this post to [email protected]?
No I didn't -- wasn't sure if that's where F. Stuart's email
originated from. Please feel free to circulate to the universe, along
with some further clarification below.
I hope I wasn't too positive in my support
of auto. program verification. There are real problems. However, with
the development of the field called formal methods, computation
has been directly linked to mathematical logic, which is a much
better understood, and well circumscribed, domain than programming
languages per se.
Applications of formal methods in software engineering depend
critically on the use of automated theorem provers to provide improved
support for the development of safety critical systems. Potentially
catastrophic consequences can derive from the failure of computerized
systems upon which human lives rely such as medical diagnostic
systems, air traffic control systems and defence systems (the recent
failure of the computerized system controlling the London Ambulance
Service provides an example of how serious software failure can be).
Formal methods are used to provide programs with, or prove that
programs have, certain properties: a program may be proved to
terminate; two programs may be proved equivalent; an inefficient
program may be transformed into an equivalent efficient program; a
program may be verified to satisfy some specification (i.e. a program
is proved to compute the specified function/relation); and a program
may be synthesized that satisfies some specification.
Program Verification boils down to proving a mathematical conjecture
specifying that a given program will, for all inputs of a certain
type, generate outputs of a certain type. This is relatively
straightforward -- we already have the program P described in the
initial conjecture to be proved.
Program synthesis, on the other hand, starts with a similar
conjecture *except* that P remains an unidentified variable.
The task of synthesis (auto. or otherwise) is to incrementally identify
P as the conjecture proof is unraveled. This requires all kinds
of "intelligent", and often intuitive, choices during the proof, and
is consequently a difficult process to automate.
Dr Peter Madden, Email: [email protected]
Max-Planck-Institut fuer Informatik, Phone: (49) (681) 302-5434
Im Stadtwald, W-66123 Saarbruecken, Germany. Fax: (49) (681) 302-5401