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Practical Techniques for Auto-Active Verification

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Auto-active verification occupies a niche between fully automatic analysis and interactive proofs: it targets a high degree of automation (usually powered by SMT solvers), while supporting programmer-friendly user interaction through source code annotations. This talk will describe a practical auto-active approach to verifying object-oriented programs and discuss techniques for making users’ interaction with auto-active tools more effective.

Invariant-based reasoning about object-oriented programs becomes challenging in the presence of collaborating objects that need to maintain global consistency. This talk will present semantic collaboration: a methodology to specify and reason about class invariants that models dependencies between collaborating objects by semantic means. The methodology is implemented in an auto-active verifier for the Eiffel programming language, and evaluated on several challenge problems and a realistic data structure library.

One of the biggest remaining obstacles to using auto-active verifiers in practice is the quality of feedback they provide when a proof attempt fails. The second part of the talk will describe a technique to generate concrete test cases for programs annotated with complex specifications, which helps understand and debug failed verification attempts.

This talk is part of the Microsoft Research Cambridge, public talks series.

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