AdaCore Blog

153 entries tagged with #Language

by Claire Dross

Relaxing the Data Initialization Policy of SPARK

SPARK always being under development, new language features make it in every release of the tool, be they previously unsupported Ada features (like access types) or SPARK specific developments. However, new features generally take a while to make it into actual user code. The feature I am going to present here is in my experience an exception, as it was used both internally and by external users before it made it into any actual release. It was designed to enhance the verification of data initialization, whose limitations have been a long standing issue in SPARK.

#Formal Verification    #SPARK   

by Jon Andrew

CuBit: A General-Purpose Operating System in SPARK/Ada

Last year, I started evaluating programming languages for a formally-verified operating system. I've been developing software for a while, but only recently began work in high integrity software development and formal methods. There are several operating system projects, like the SeL4 microkernel and the Muen separation kernel, that make use of formal verification. But I was interested in using a formally-verified language to write a general-purpose OS - an environment for abstracting the underlying hardware while acting as an arbiter for running the normal applications we're used to.

by Pat Rogers

From Ada to Platinum SPARK: A Case Study for Reusable Bounded Stacks

This blog entry describes the transformation of an Ada stack ADT into a completely proven SPARK implementation that relies on static verification instead of run-time enforcement of the abstraction’s semantics. We will prove that there are no reads of unassigned variables, no array indexing errors, no range errors, no numeric overflow errors, no attempts to push onto a full stack, no attempts to pop from an empty stack, that subprogram bodies implement their functional requirements, and so on. As a result, we get a maximally robust implementation of a reusable stack abstraction providing all the facilities required for production use.

#SPARK    #Ada    #Transitioning to SPARK   

by Abe Cohen

An Introduction to Contract-Based Programming in Ada

One of the most powerful features of Ada 2012* is the ability to specify contracts on your code. Contracts describe conditions that must be satisfied upon entry (preconditions) and upon exit (postconditions) of your subprogram. Preconditions describe the context in which the subprogram must be called, and postconditions describe conditions that will be adhered to by the subprogram’s implementation. If you think about it, contracts are a natural evolution of Ada’s core design principle. To encourage developers to be as explicit as possible with their expressions, putting both the compiler/toolchain and other developers in the best position to help them develop better code.

by Quentin Ochem

Witnessing the Emergence of a New Ada Era

For nearly four decades the Ada language (in all versions of the standard) has been helping developers meet the most stringent reliability, safety and security requirements in the embedded market. As such, Ada has become an entrenched player in its historic A&D niche, where its technical advantages are recognized and well understood. Ada has also seen usage in other domains (such as medical and transportation) but its penetration has progressed at a somewhat slower pace. In these other markets Ada stands in particular contrast with the C language, which, although suffering from extremely well known and documented flaws, remains a strong and seldom questioned default choice. Or at least, when it’s not the choice, C is still the starting point (a gateway drug?) for alternatives such as C++ or Java, which in the end still lack the software engineering benefits that Ada embodies..

by Joffrey Huguet , Johannes Kanig

Proving a simple program doing I/O ... with SPARK

The functionality of many security-critical programs is directly related to Input/Output (I/O). This includes command-line utilities such as gzip, which might process untrusted data downloaded from the internet, but also any servers that are directly connected to the internet, such as webservers, DNS servers and so on. In this blog post we show an approach that deals with error handling and reasoning about content, and demonstrate the approach using the cat command line utility.

#Formal Verification    #SPARK   

by Boran Car

Bringing Ada To MultiZone

C is the dominant language of the embedded world, almost to the point of exclusivity. Due to its age, and its goal of being a “portable assembler”, it deliberately lacks type-safety, opening up exploit vectors. Proposed solutions are partitioning the application into smaller intercommunicating blocks, designed with the principle of least privilege in mind; and rewriting the application in a type-safe language. We believe that both approaches are complementary and want to show you how to combine separation and isolation provided by MultiZone together with iteratively rewriting parts in Ada. We will take the MultiZone SDK demo and rewrite one of the zones in Ada.

#Ada    #embedded    #Embedded Development    #Security    #multizone    #Hex-Five   

by Pamela Trevino

Public Ada Training Paris June 3-7, 2019

This course is geared to software professionals looking for a practical introduction to the Ada language with a focus on embedded systems, including real-time features as well as critical features introduced in Ada 2012. By attending this course you will understand and know how to use Ada for both sequential and concurrent applications, through a combination of live lectures from AdaCore's expert instructors and hands-on workshops using AdaCore's latest GNAT technology. AdaCore will provide an Ada 2012 tool-chain and ARM-based target boards for embedded workshops. No previous experience with Ada is required.

by Peter Chapin

Ten Years of Using SPARK to Build CubeSat Nano Satellites With Students

My colleague, Carl Brandon, and I have been running the CubeSat Laboratory at Vermont Technical College (VTC) for over ten years. During that time we have worked with nearly two dozen students on building and programming CubeSat nano satellites. Because of their general inexperience, and because of the high student turnover rate that is natural in an educational setting, our development process is often far from ideal. Here SPARK has been extremely valuable to us. What we lack in rigor of the development process we make up for in the rigor of the SPARK language and tools. In November 2013 we launched a low Earth orbiting CubeSat. The launch vehicle contained 13 other university built CubeSats. Most were never heard from. One worked for a few months. Ours worked for two years until it reentered Earth's atmosphere as planned in November 2015.

#SPARK    #Space    #Education    #Safety   

by Yannick Moy , Nicolas Setton , Ben Brosgol

A Readable Introduction to Both MISRA C and SPARK Ada

MISRA C is the most widely known coding standard restricting the use of the C programming language for critical software. For good reasons. For one, its focus is entirely on avoiding error-prone programming features of the C programming language rather than on enforcing a particular programming style. In addition, a large majority of rules it defines are checkable automatically (116 rules out of the total 159 guidelines), and many tools are available to enforce those. As a coding standard, MISRA C even goes out of its way to define a consistent sub-language of C, with its own typing rules (called the "essential type model" in MISRA C) to make up for the lack of strong typing in C.

#MISRA-C    #SPARK    #Safety    #Security   

by Quentin Ochem

Proving Memory Operations - A SPARK Journey

The promise behind the SPARK language is the ability to formally demonstrate properties in your code regardless of the input values that are supplied - as long as those values satisfy specified constraints. As such, this is quite different from static analysis tools such as our CodePeer or the typical offering available for e.g. the C language, which trade completeness for efficiency in the name of pragmatism. Indeed, the problem they’re trying to solve - finding bugs in existing applications - makes it impossible to be complete. Or, if completeness is achieved, then it is at the cost of massive amount of uncertainties (“false alarms”). SPARK takes a different approach. It requires the programmer to stay within the boundaries of a (relatively large) Ada language subset and to annotate the source code with additional information - at the benefit of being able to be complete (or sound) in the verification of certain properties, and without inundating the programmer with false alarms.

by Pamela Trevino

Public Ada Training Paris, France Dec 3 - 7, 2018

This course is geared to software professionals looking for a practical introduction to the Ada language with a focus on embedded systems, including real-time features as well as critical features introduced in Ada 2012. By attending this course you will understand and know how to use Ada for both sequential and concurrent applications, through a combination of live lectures from AdaCore's expert instructors and hands-on workshops using AdaCore's latest GNAT technology. AdaCore will provide an Ada 2012 tool-chain and ARM-based target boards for embedded workshops. No previous experience with Ada is required.

by Yannick Moy

Security Agency Uses SPARK for Secure USB Key

​ANSSI, the French national security agency, has published the results of their work since 2014 on designing and implementing an open-hardware & open-source USB key that provides defense-in-depth against vulnerabilities on the USB hardware, architecture, protocol and software stack. In this project called WooKey, Ada and SPARK are key components for the security of the platform. This is a very compelling demontration of both the usability and the power of safe languages and formal verification to develop secure systems.

#SPARK    #Security    #Formal Methods   

by Yannick Moy , Roderick Chapman

How Ada and SPARK Can Increase the Security of Your Software

There is a long-standing debate about which phase in the Software Development Life Cycle causes the most bugs: is it the specification phase or the coding phase? A recent study by NIST shows that, in the software industry at large, coding bugs are causing the majority of security issues. Choosing a safer language like Ada or SPARK is a critical component for reducing these vulnerabilities that result from simple mistakes. In a new freely available booklet, we explain how these languages and the associated toolsets can be used to increase the security of software.

#Ada    #SPARK    #Security   

by Yannick Moy

Two Days Dedicated to Sound Static Analysis for Security

​AdaCore has been working with CEA, Inria and NIST to organize a two-days event dedicated to sound static analysis techniques and tools, and how they are used to increase the security of software-based systems. The program gathers top-notch experts in the field, from industry, government agencies and research institutes, around the three themes of analysis of legacy code, use in new developments and accountable software quality. Here is why it is worth attending.

#SPARK    #Frama-C    #Security    #Formal Methods    #Static Analysis   

by Yannick Moy

Tokeneer Fully Verified with SPARK 2014

Tokeneer is a software for controlling physical access to a secure enclave by means of a fingerprint sensor. This software was created by Altran (Praxis at the time) in 2003 using the previous generation of SPARK language and tools, as part of a project commissioned by the NSA to investigate the rigorous development of critical software using formal methods. The project artefacts, including the source code, were released as open source in 2008. Tokeneer was widely recognized as a milestone in industrial formal verification. We recently transitioned this software to SPARK 2014, and it allowed us to go beyond what was possible with the previous SPARK technology. We have also shown how security vulnerabilities introduced in the code can be detected by formal verification.

#SPARK    #Formal Methods   

by Lionel Matias

Leveraging Ada Run-Time Checks with Fuzz Testing in AFL

Fuzzing is a very popular bug finding method. The concept, very simple, is to continuously inject random (garbage) data as input of a software component, and wait for it to crash. If, like me, you find writing robustness test tedious and not very efficient in finding bugs, you might want to try fuzzing your Ada code.Here's a recipe to fuzz-test your Ada code, using American Fuzzy Lop and all the runtime checks your favorite Ada compiler can provide.Let's see (quickly) how AFL works, then jump right into fuzzing 3 open-source Ada libraries: ZipAda, AdaYaml, and GNATCOLL.JSON.

#Testing    #Ada    #VerificationTools   

by Jamie Ayre

Welcoming New Members to the GNAT Pro Family

As we see the importance of software grow in applications, the quality of that software has become more and more important. Even outside the mission- and safety-critical arena customers are no longer accepting software failures (the famous blue screens of death, and there are many...). Ada has a very strong answer here and we are seeing more and more interest in using the language from a range of industries. It is for this reason that we have completed our product line by including an entry-level offer for C/C++ developers wanting to switch to Ada and reinforced our existing offer with GNAT Pro Assurance for programmers building the most robust software platforms with life cycles spanning decades.

#GNAT Pro    #Ada   

by J. German Rivera

Make with Ada 2017- A "Swiss Army Knife" Watch

SummaryThe Hexiwear is an IoT wearable development board that has two NXP Kinetis microcontrollers. One is a K64F (Cortex-M4 core) for running the main embedded application software. The other one is a KW40 (Cortex M0+ core) for running a wireless connectivity stack (e.g., Bluetooth BLE or Thread). The Hexiwear board also has a rich set of peripherals, including OLED display, accelerometer, magnetometer, gryroscope, pressure sensor, temperature sensor and heart-rate sensor. This blog article describes the development of a "Swiss Army Knife" watch on the Hexiwear platform. It is a bare-metal embedded application developed 100% in Ada 2012, from the lowest level device drivers all the way up to the application-specific code, for the Hexiwear's K64F microcontroller. I developed Ada drivers for Hexiwear-specific peripherals from scratch, as they were not supported by AdaCore's Ada drivers library. Also, since I wanted to use the GNAT GPL 2017 Ada compiler but the GNAT GPL distribution did not include a port of the Ada Runtime for the Hexiwear board, I also had to port the GNAT GPL 2017 Ada runtime to the Hexiwear. All this application-independent code can be leveraged by anyone interested in developing Ada applications for the Hexiwear wearable device.

by Yannick Moy , Martin Becker , Emanuel Regnath

Physical Units Pass the Generic Test

The support for physical units in programming languages is a long-standing issue, which very few languages have even attempted to solve. This issue has been mostly solved for Ada in 2012 by our colleagues Ed Schonberg and Vincent Pucci who introduced special aspects for specifying physical dimensions on types. This dimension system did not attempt to deal with generics though. As was noted by others, handling generics in a dimensional analysis that is, like in GNAT, a compile-time analysis with no impact on the executable size or running time, is the source of the problem of dimension handling. Together with our partners from Technical Universitat München, we have finally solved this remaining difficulty.

#GNAT     #typing   

by Jonas Attertun

Make with Ada 2017: Brushless DC Motor Controller

This project involves the design of a software platform that provides a good basis when developing motor controllers for brushless DC motors (BLDC/PMSM). It consist of a basic but clean and readable implementation of a sensored field oriented control algorithm. Included is a logging feature that will simplify development and allows users to visualize what is happening. The project shows that Ada successfully can be used for a bare-metal project that requires fast execution.

#Makers    #MakewithAda    #STM32    #embedded   

by Rob Tice

The Adaroombot Project

The Adaroombot project consists of an iRobot CreateⓇ 2 and Ada running on a Raspberry Pi with a Linux OS. This is a great Intro-to-Ada project as it focuses on a control algorithm and a simple serial communications protocol. The iRobot CreateⓇ 2 platform was originally design for STEM education and has great documentation and support - making it very easy to create a control application using Ada. This blog looks at the creation of the project and some cool features of Ada that were learned along the way.

#Raspberry Pi    #ARM    #Linux    #Ada    #Roomba   

by Yannick Moy , Nicolas Roche

A Usable Copy-Paste Detector in A Few Lines of Python

After we created lightweight checkers based on the recent Libadalang technology developed at AdaCore, a colleague gave us the challenge of creating a copy-paste detector based on Libadalang. It turned out to be both easier than anticipated, and much more efficient and effective than we could have hoped for. In the end, we hope to use this new detector to refactor the codebase of some of our tools, and we expect to integrate it in our IDEs.

#Libadalang    #Static Analysis    #refactoring   

by Fabien Chouteau , Arnaud Charlet , Yannick Moy

SPARK Tetris on the Arduboy

One of us got hooked on the promise of a credit-card-size programmable pocket game under the name of Arduboy and participated in its kickstarter in 2015. The kickstarter was successful (but late) and delivered  the expected working board in mid 2016. Of course, the idea from the start was to program it in Ada , but this is an 8-bits AVR microcontroller (the ATmega32u4 by Atmel) not supported anymore by GNAT Pro. One solution would have been to rebuild our own GNAT compiler for 8-bit AVR from the GNAT FSF repository and use the AVR-Ada project. Another solution, which we explore in this blog post, is to use the SPARK-to-C compiler that we developed at AdaCore to turn our Ada code into C and then use the Arduino toolchain to compile for the Arduboy board.

by Claire Dross

Research Corner - Auto-active Verification in SPARK

GNATprove performs auto-active verification, that is, verification is done automatically, but usually requires annotations by the user to succeed. In SPARK, annotations are most often given in the form of contracts (pre and postconditions). But some language features, in particular ghost code, allow proof guidance to be much more involved. In a paper we are presenting at NASA Formal Methods symposium 2017, we describe how an imperative red black tree implementation in SPARK was verified using intensive auto-active verification.

#Formal Verification    #SPARK   

by Raphaël Amiard , Yannick Moy , Pierre-Marie de Rodat

Going After the Low Hanging Bug

At AdaCore, we have a strong expertise in deep static analysis tools (CodePeer and SPARK), and we have been relying on the compiler GNAT and our coding standard checker GNATcheck to deal with more syntactic or weakly-semantic checks. The recent Libadalang technology, developed at AdaCore, provided us with an ideal basis to develop specialized light-weight static analyzers. As an experiment, we implemented two simple checkers using the Python binding of Libadalang. The results on our own codebase were eye-opening: we found a dozen bugs in the codebases of the tools we develop at AdaCore (including the compiler and static analyzers).

#Static Analysis   

by Raphaël Amiard , Pierre-Marie de Rodat

Introducing Libadalang

AdaCore is working on a host of tools that works on Ada code. The compiler, GNAT, is the most famous and prominent one, but it is far from being the only one. At AdaCore, we already have several other tools to process Ada code: the ASIS library, GNAT2XML, the GPS IDE. A realization of the past years, however, has been that we were lacking a unified solution to process code that is potentially evolving, potentially incorrect Ada code. Hence Libadalang.

#Ada    #tooling   

by Yannick Moy

New Year's Resolution for 2017: Use SPARK, Say Goodbye to Bugs

​NIST has recently published a report called "Dramatically Reducing Software Vulnerabilities"​ in which they single out five approaches which have the potential for creating software with 100 times fewer vulnerabilities than we do today. One of these approaches is formal methods. Among formal methods, the report highlights strong suits of SPARK, and cites SPARK projects as example of mature uses of formal methods. NIST is not the only ones to support the use of SPARK. Editor Bill Wong from Electronic Design has included SPARK in his "2016 Gifts for the Techie". So if your new year's resolutions include software without bugs, have a look at SPARK in 2017.

#VerificationTools    #Formal Methods    #SPARK   

by Yannick Moy

Verified, Trustworthy Code with SPARK and Frama-C

Last week, a few of us at AdaCore have attended a one-day workshop organized at Thales Research and Technologies, around the topic of "Verified, trustworthy code - formal verification of software". Attendees from many different branches of Thales (avionics, railway, security, networks) were given an overview of the state-of-practice in formal verification of software, focused on two technologies: the SPARK technology that we develop at AdaCore for programs in Ada, and the Frama-C technology developed at CEA research labs for programs in C. The most interesting part of the day was the feedback given by three operational teams who have experimented during a few months with either SPARK (two teams) or Frama-C (one team). The lessons learned by first-time adopters of such technologies are quite valuable.

#SPARK    #Formal Methods   

by Pierre-Marie de Rodat

C library bindings: GCC plugins to the rescue

I recently started working on an Ada binding for the excellent libuv C library. This library provides a convenient API to perform asynchronous I/O under an event loop, which is a popular way to develop server stacks. A central part of this API is its enumeration type for error codes: most functions use it. Hence, one of the first things I had to do was to bind the enumeration type for error codes. Believe it or not: this is harder than it first seems!

#Code generation    #Ada   

by Yannick Moy

Did SPARK 2014 Rethink Formal Methods?

David Parnas is a well-known researcher in formal methods, who famously contributed to the analysis of the shut-down software for the Darlington nuclear power plant and designed the specification method known as Parnas tables and the development method called Software Cost Reduction. In 2010, the magazine CACM asked him to identify what was preventing more widespread adoption of formal methods in industry, and in this article on Really Rethinking Formal Methods he listed 17 areas that needed rethinking. The same year, we started a project to recreate SPARK with new ideas and new technology, which lead to SPARK 2014 as it is today. Parnas's article influenced some critical design decisions. Six years later, it's interesting to see how the choices we made in SPARK 2014 address (or not) Parnas's concerns.

#Formal Verification    #SPARK   

by Yannick Moy

Formal Verification of Legacy Code

Just a few weeks ago, one of our partners reported a strange behavior of the well-known function Ada.Text_IO.Get_Line, which reads a line of text from an input file. When the last line of the file was of a specific length like 499 or 500 or 1000, and not terminated with a newline character, then Get_Line raised an exception End_Error instead of returning the expected string. That was puzzling for a central piece of code known to have worked for the past 10 years! But fair enough, there was indeed a bug in the interaction between subprograms in this code, in boundary cases having to do with the size of an intermediate buffer. My colleague Ed Schonberg who fixed the code of Get_Line had nonetheless the intuition that this particular event, finding such a bug in an otherwise trusted legacy piece of code, deserved a more in depth investigation to ensure no other bugs were hiding. So he challenged the SPARK team at AdaCore in checking the correctness of the patched version. He did well, as in the process we uncovered 3 more bugs.

#SPARK    #Legacy    #Formal Methods   

by Yannick Moy

SPARK 2014 Rationale: Support for Ravenscar

As presented in a recent post by Pavlos, the upcoming release of SPARK Pro will support concurrency features of Ada, with the restrictions defined in the Ravenscar profile of Ada. This profile restricts concurrency so that concurrent programs are deterministic and schedulable. SPARK analysis makes it possible to prove that shared data is protected against data races, that deadlocks cannot occur and that no other run-time errors related to concurrency can be encountered when running the program. In this post, I revisit the example given by Pavlos to show SPARK features and GNATprove analysis in action.

#Language    #Formal Verification    #SPARK   

by Anthony Leonardo Gracio

How to prevent drone crashes using SPARK

The Crazyflie is a very small quadcopter sold as an open source development platform: both electronic schematics and source code are directly available on their GitHub and its architecture is very flexible. Even if the Crazyflie flies out of the box, it has not been developed with safety in mind: in case of crash, its size, its weight and its plastic propellers won’t hurt anyone! But what if the propellers were made of carbon fiber, and shaped like razor blades to increase the drone’s performance? In theses circumstances, a bug in the flight control system could lead to dramatic events. In this post, I present the work I did to rewrite the stabilization system of the Crazyflie in SPARK 2014, and to prove that it is free of runtime errors. SPARK also helped me to discover little bugs in the original firmware, one of which directly related with overflows. Besides the Crazyflie, this work could be an inspiration for others to do the same work on larger and more safety-critical drones.

#UAVs    #crazyflie    #SPARK    #Drones   

by Claire Dross

A quick glimpse at the translation of Ada integer types in GNATprove

In SPARK, as in most programming languages, there are a bunch of bounded integer types. On the other hand, Why3 only has mathematical integers and a library for bitvectors. Since bitwise operations can only be done on modular types in Ada, we currently translate arithmetic operations on signed integer types as operations on mathematical integers and arithmetic operations on modular types as operation on bitvectors. The only remaining question now is, how do we encode specific bounds of the Ada types into our Why3 translation ? In this post, I will present three different ways we tried to do this and explain which one we currently use and why.

#Formal Verification    #SPARK   

by Martyn Pike

The latest Mixed Programming with Ada lectures at the AdaCore University

I recently joined AdaCore as a Technical Account Manager with an initial focus on the UK and Scandinavian regions, but for the last 12 months I've been busy working on the AdaCore University. The most recent addition to which is a course on Mixed Language Programming with Ada, and it includes lectures on the integration of Ada with C, C++ and Java. The course covers some advanced topics like mixed language object orientation, techniques for using Ada strong typing to combat known issue with C pointers and the pitfalls that are encountered when mixing native Ada code with Java at runtime. This course clearly demonstrates that Ada has strong support for integration with C, C++ and Java and it proves there are no technical barriers to its adoption in modern mixed language software systems.

#Mixed Language    #AdaCore University    #Java    #C++    #C    

by Yannick Moy

A Building Code for Building Code

In a recent article in Communications of the ACM, Carl Landwehr, a renowned scientific expert on security, defends the view that the software engineering community is doing overall a poor job at securing our global information system and that this is mostly avoidable by putting what we know works to work, to the point that most vulnerabilities could be completely avoided by design if we cared enough. Shocking! Or so it should appear.

#Ada    #SPARK    #Static Analysis    #Security   

by Olivier Ramonat

AdaCore Releases GNAT Pro 7.3, QGen 1.0 and GNATdashboard 1.0

February saw the annual customer release of a number of important products. This is no mean task when you consider the fact that GNAT Pro is available on over 50 platforms and supports over 150 runtime profiles (ranging from Full Ada Support to the very restricted Zero Footprint Profile suitable for safety-critical development). All in all, from the branching of the preview version to the customer release it takes us nearly 4 months to package everything up! Quality is assured through the internally developed AdaCore Factory.

#GNAT Pro    #SPARK Pro    #GPS    #GNATbench    #GNATdashboard    #Ada    #AdaCore Factory    #CodePeer    #QGen   

by Yannick Moy

SPARK 2014 Rationale: Object Oriented Programming

Object Oriented Programming is known for making it particularly difficult to analyze programs, because the subprograms called are not always known statically. The standard for civil avionics certification has recognized this specific problem, and defines a specific verification objective called Local Type Consistency that should be met with one of three strategies. SPARK allows using one of these strategies, by defining the behavior of an overridden subprogram using a special class-wide contract and checking that the behavior of the overriding subprogram is a suitable substitution, following the Liskov Substitution Principle.

#Language    #Formal Verification    #SPARK   

by Claire Dross

External Axiomatizations: a Trip Into SPARK’s Internals

There are cases expressing all the specification of a package in SPARK is either impossible (for example if you need to link them to elements of the mathematical world, like trigonometry functions), cumbersome (especially if they require concepts that cannot easily be described using contracts, like transitivity, counting, summation...), or simply inefficient, for big and complex data structures like containers for example. In these cases, a user can provide directly a manually written Why3 translation for an Ada package using a feature named external axiomatizations. Coming up with this manual translation requires both a knowledge of the WhyML language and a minimal understanding of GNATprove's mechanisms and is therefore reserved to advanced users.

#Formal Verification    #SPARK   

by Claire Dross

Manual Proof with Ghost Code in SPARK 2014

Guiding automatic solvers by adding intermediate assertions is a commonly used technique. We can go further in this direction, by adding complete pieces of code doing nothing, generally called ghost code, to guide the automated reasoning. This is an advanced feature, for people willing to manually guide proofs. Still, it is all in SPARK 2014 and thus does not require the user to learn a new language. We explain here how we can achieve inductive proofs on a permutation function.

#Formal Verification    #SPARK   

by Florian Schanda

SPARK 2014 Rationale: Data Dependencies

Programs often use a few global variables. Global variables make passing common information between different parts of a program easier. By reading the specification of a subprogram we are able to see all of the parameters that the subprogram uses and, in Ada, we also get to know whether they are read, written or both. However, no information regarding the use of global variables is revealed by reading the specifications. In order to monitor and enforce which global variables a subprogram is allowed to use, SPARK 2014 has introduced the Global aspect, which I describe in this post.

#Language    #Formal Verification    #SPARK   

by Yannick Moy

GNATprove Tips and Tricks: How to Write Loop Invariants

Having already presented in previous posts why loop invariants are necessary for formal verification of programs with loops, and what loop invariants are necessary for various loops, we detail here a methodology for how users can come up with the right loop invariants for their loops. This methodology in four steps allows users to progressively add the necessary information in their loop invariants, with the tool GNATprove providing the required feedback at each step on whether the information provided is sufficient or not.

#Formal Verification    #SPARK   

by Yannick Moy

Muen Separation Kernel Written in SPARK

The University of Applied Sciences Rapperswil in Switzerland has released last week an open-source separation kernel written in SPARK, which has been proved free from run-time errors. This project is part of the secure multilevel workstation project by Secunet, a German security company, which is using SPARK and Isabelle to create the next generation of secure workstations providing different levels of security to government employees and military personnel. I present why I think this project is worth following closely.

#Language    #Formal Verification    #SPARK   

by Yannick Moy

GNATprove Tips and Tricks: Referring to Input in Contracts

In a previous post about pre-call values, I described how the Ada language rules implemented in the compiler prevent surprises when referring to input values in the postcondition, using the Old attribute. Unfortunately, these rules also make it difficult to express some complex postconditions that may be useful when doing formal verification. In this post, I describe how contract cases allow the expression of these complex contracts, while still detecting potential problems with uses of the Old attribute.

#Language    #Formal Verification    #SPARK   

by Yannick Moy

SPARK 2014 Rationale: Global State

Global variables are a common source of programming errors: they may fail to be initialized properly, they can be modified in unexpected ways, sequences of modifications may be illegal, etc. SPARK 2014 provides a way to define abstractly the global state of a unit, so that it can be referred to in subprogram specifications. The associated toolset checks correct access to global variables in the implementation.

#Language    #Formal Verification    #SPARK   

by Yannick Moy

SPARK 2014 Rationale: Loop Invariants

Formal verification tools like GNATprove rely on two main inputs from programmers: subprogram contracts (preconditions and postconditions) and loop invariants. While the first ones are easy to understand (based on the "contract" analogy, in which a subprogram and its caller have mutual obligations), the second ones are not so simple to grasp. This post presents loop invariants and the choices we made in SPARK 2014.

#Language    #Formal Verification    #SPARK   

by Yannick Moy

SPARK 2014 Rationale: Pre-call and Pre-loop Values

Subprogram contracts are commonly presented as special assertions: the precondition is an assertion checked at subprogram entry, while the postcondition is an assertion checked at subprogram exit. A subtlety not covered by this simplified presentation is that postconditions are really two-state assertions: they assert properties over values at subprogram exit and values at subprogram entry. A special attribute Old is defined in Ada 2012 to support these special assertions. A special attribute Loop_Entry is defined in SPARK 2014 to support similar special assertions for loops.

#Formal Verification    #SPARK