A Formal Basis for Safety Case Patterns

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Abstract

By capturing common structures of successful arguments, safety case patterns provide an approach for reusing strategies for reasoning about safety. In the current state of the practice, patterns exist as descriptive specifications with informal semantics, which not only offer little opportunity for more sophisticated usage such as automated instantiation, composition and manipulation, but also impede standardization efforts and tool interoperability. To address these concerns, this paper gives (i) a formal definition for safety case patterns, clarifying both restrictions on the usage of multiplicity and well-founded recursion in structural abstraction, (ii) formal semantics to patterns, and (iii) a generic data model and algorithm for pattern instantiation. We illustrate our contributions by application to a new pattern, the requirements breakdown pattern, which builds upon our previous work.