A formal methodology for the verification of concurrent systems

  • Philip J. Clarke

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


There is an increasing emphasis on the use of software to control safety critical plants for a wide area of applications. The importance of ensuring the correct operation of such potentially hazardous systems points to an emphasis on the verification of the system relative to a suitably secure specification. However, the process of verification is often made more complex by the concurrency and real-time considerations which are inherent in many applications. A response to this is the use of formal methods for the specification and verification of safety critical control systems. These provide a mathematical representation of a system which permits reasoning about its properties. This thesis investigates the use of the formal method Communicating Sequential Processes (CSP) for the verification of a safety critical control application. CSP is a discrete event based process algebra which has a compositional axiomatic semantics that supports verification by formal proof. The application is an industrial case study which concerns the concurrent control of a real-time high speed mechanism. It is seen from the case study that the axiomatic verification method employed is complex. It requires the user to have a relatively comprehensive understanding of the nature of the proof system and the application. By making a series of observations the thesis notes that CSP possesses the scope to support a more procedural approach to verification in the form of testing. This thesis investigates the technique of testing and proposes the method of Ideal Test Sets. By exploiting the underlying structure of the CSP semantic model it is shown that for certain processes and specifications the obligation of verification can be reduced to that of testing the specification over a finite subset of the behaviours of the process.
Date of Award1993
Original languageEnglish


  • verification
  • concurrency
  • secure specification
  • Communicating Sequential Processes
  • semantic model

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