An integrated specification and verification technique for highly concurrent data structures for highly concurrent data structures


We present a technique for automatically verifying safety properties of concurrent programs, in particular programs that rely on subtle dependencies of local states of different threads, such as lock-free implementations of stacks and queues in an environment without garbage collection. Our technique addresses the joint challenges of infinite-state specifications, an unbounded number of threads, and an unbounded heap managed by explicit memory allocation. Our technique builds on the automata-theoretic approach to model checking, in which a specification is given by an automaton that observes the execution of a program and accepts executions that violate the intended specification. We extend this approach by allowing specifications to be given by a class of infinite-state automata. We show how such automata can be used to specify queues, stacks, and other data structures, by extending a data-independence argument. For verification, we develop a shape analysis, which tracks correlations between pairs of threads, and a novel abstraction to make the analysis practical. We have implemented our method and used it to verify programs, some of which have not been verified by any other automatic method before.

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    When the observers in Figs. 67810 and 9 are used to specify a stack (respectively, a queue), each occurrence of in(.) should be replaced by push(.) (respectively, enq(.)) and each occurrence of out(.) should be replaced by pop(.) (respectively, deq(.))


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Correspondence to Ahmed Rezine.

Additional information

F. Haziza and L. Holik were in part supported by the Uppsala Programming for Multicore Architectures Research Center (UPMARC). L. Holik was in part supported by the Czech Science Foundation (project 13-37876P), the internal projects of Brno University of Technology FIT-S-12-1 and FIT-S-14-2486. A. Rezine was in part supported by the CENIIT research organization at Linköping (project 12.04).

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Abdulla, P.A., Haziza, F., Holík, L. et al. An integrated specification and verification technique for highly concurrent data structures for highly concurrent data structures. Int J Softw Tools Technol Transfer 19, 549–563 (2017).

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  • Verification
  • Pointer programs
  • Explicit memory allocation
  • Queue
  • Stack
  • Unbounded
  • Concurrency
  • Specification
  • Linearizability