Concept

Formal verification

Summary
In the context of hardware and software systems, formal verification is the act of proving or disproving the correctness of intended algorithms underlying a system with respect to a certain formal specification or property, using formal methods of mathematics. Formal verification can be helpful in proving the correctness of systems such as: cryptographic protocols, combinational circuits, digital circuits with internal memory, and software expressed as source code. The verification of these systems is done by providing a formal proof on an abstract mathematical model of the system, the correspondence between the mathematical model and the nature of the system being otherwise known by construction. Examples of mathematical objects often used to model systems are: finite-state machines, labelled transition systems, Petri nets, vector addition systems, timed automata, hybrid automata, process algebra, formal semantics of programming languages such as operational semantics, denotational semantics, axiomatic semantics and Hoare logic. One approach and formation is model checking, which consists of a systematically exhaustive exploration of the mathematical model (this is possible for finite models, but also for some infinite models where infinite sets of states can be effectively represented finitely by using abstraction or taking advantage of symmetry). Usually, this consists of exploring all states and transitions in the model, by using smart and domain-specific abstraction techniques to consider whole groups of states in a single operation and reduce computing time. Implementation techniques include state space enumeration, symbolic state space enumeration, abstract interpretation, symbolic simulation, abstraction refinement. The properties to be verified are often described in temporal logics, such as linear temporal logic (LTL), Property Specification Language (PSL), SystemVerilog Assertions (SVA), or computational tree logic (CTL).
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