From high-level modeling toward efficient and trustworthy circuits


Behavior–interaction–priority (BIP) is a layered embedded system design and verification framework that provides separation of functionality, synchronization, and priority concerns to simplify system design and to establish correctness by construction. BIP framework comes with a runtime engine and a suite of verification tools that use D-Finder and NuSMV as model-checkers. In this paper, we provide a method and a supporting tool that take a BIP system and a set of invariants and compute a reduced sequential circuit with a system-specific scheduler and a designated output that is \(\mathtt {true}\) when the invariants hold. Our method uses ABC, a sequential circuit synthesis and verification framework, to (1) generate an efficient circuit implementation of the system that can be readily translated into FPGA or ASIC implementations and to (2) verify the system and debug it in case a counterexample is found. Moreover, we generate a concurrent C implementation of the circuit that can be directly used for runtime verification. We evaluated our method with two benchmark systems, and our results show that, compared to existing techniques, our method is faster and scales to larger sizes.

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Correspondence to Mohamad Jaber.

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The first two authors contributed equally to this work.

Appendix A: ABC reduction and verification techniques

Appendix A: ABC reduction and verification techniques

The ABC framework provides a set of algorithms that can be applied iteratively to (1) reduce the AIG into an equivalent AIG and (2) verify that a designated output of an AIG is always true. In what follows, we provide brief descriptions of several reduction and verification ABC algorithms.

A.1: Structural register sweep (SRS)

SRS detects registers that are stuck at constant and eliminates them from a given sequential AIG circuit. The technique starts by zeroing up all initial values of registers in the circuit. It then uses the ternary simulation algorithm in order to detect stuck-at-constant registers. The algorithm starts from the initial values of the registers and simulates the circuit using x values for the circuit’s primary inputs. The simulation algorithm stops when a new ternary state is equal to a previously computed ternary state. In this case, any register having the same constant value at each reachable ternary state will be declared to be stuck at constant and thus eliminated. The structural sweeping algorithm stop when no further reduction in the number of registers is possible [45].

A.2: Signal correspondence (Scorr)

Scorr uses k-step induction in order to detect and merge sets of classes of sequentially equivalent nodes [45]. The base case for this algorithm is that the equivalence between the classes holds for the first k frames, and the inductive case is that given the base case, starting from any state, the equivalence holds in the \((k+1)\mathrm{st}\) state. Key to the signal correspondence algorithm is the way the candidate equivalences are assumed for the base case. Abc implements speculative reduction, originally presented in [48], which merges, but does not remove, any node of an equivalence class onto its representative, in each of the first k time frames. Instead of removing the merged node, a constraint is added to assert that the node and its representative are equal. This technique is claimed to decrease the number of constraints added to the SAT solved for induction.

A.3: Rewriting

Rewriting aims at finding nodes in a directed acyclic graph (DAG) where by replacing subgraphs rooted at these nodes by pre-computed subgraphs can introduce important reductions in the DAG size, while keeping the functionality of these nodes intact. The algorithm traverses the DAG in depth-first post-order and gives a score for each root node. The score represents the number of nodes that would result from performing a rewrite at this node. If a rewrite exists such that the size of the DAG is decreased, such a rewrite is performed and scores are recomputed accordingly. Rewriting has been proposed initially in [16], targeted for Reduced Boolean circuits (RBC); it was later implemented and improved for ABC in [46].

A.4: Retiming

Retiming a sequential circuit is a standard technique used in sequential synthesis, aiming at the relocation of the registers in the circuit in order to optimize some of the circuit characteristics. Retiming can either target the minimization of the delay in the circuit, or the minimization of the number of registers given a delay constraint, or the unconstrained minimization of the number of registers in the circuit. It does so while keeping the output functionality of the circuit intact [39]

A.5: Property directed reachability (Pdr)

The Pdr algorithm aims at proving that no violating state is reachable from the initial state of a given AIG network. It maintains a trace representing a list of over-approximations of the states reachable from the initial state, along with a set of proof obligations, which can be a set of bad states or a set of states from which a bad state is reachable. Given the trace and the set of obligations, the Pdr algorithm manipulates them and keeps on adding facts to the trace until either an inductive invariant is reached and the property is proved, or a counterexample is found (a bad state is proven to be reachable). The algorithm was originally developed by Aaron Bradley in [19, 20] and was later improved by Een et al in [30].

A.6: Temporal induction

Temporal induction carries an inductive proof of the property over the time steps of a sequential circuit. Similar to a standard inductive proof, it consists of a base case and an inductive hypothesis. These steps are typically expressed as SAT problems to be solved by traditional SAT solvers. k-step induction strengthens simple temporal inductive proofs by assuming that the property holds for the first k time steps (states), i.e., a longer base case needs to be proven [31]. Since the target is to prove unsatisfiability (proving that the negation of the property is unsatisfiable), if the base case is satisfiable, a counterexample is returned. Otherwise, the induction step is checked by assuming that the property holds for all the states except the last one (the \((k+1)\)’th state) [14].

A.7: Interpolation

Given an unsatisfiable formula \(A \wedge B\), an interpolant I is a formula such that \(A \implies I\), \(I \wedge B\) is unsatisfiable and I contains only common variables to A and B. Given a system M, a property p and a bound k, interpolation-based verification starts by attempting bounded model-checking (BMC) with the bound k. If a counterexample is found, the algorithm returns. Otherwise, it partitions the problem into a prefix pre and a suffix suf, such that the problem is the conjunction of the two. Then, the interpolant I of \({ pre}\) and \({ suf}\) is computed, and it represents an over-approximation of the set of states reachable in one step from the initial state of the algorithm. If I contains no new states, a fixpoint is reached and the property is proved. Otherwise, the algorithm reiterates and replaces the initial states with new states added by I [2].

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Zaraket, F.A., Jaber, M., Noureddine, M. et al. From high-level modeling toward efficient and trustworthy circuits. Int J Softw Tools Technol Transfer 21, 143–163 (2019).

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  • Component-based design
  • Correct-by-construction
  • FPGA
  • Verification