Skip to main content

Teaching Formal Methods to Future Engineers

Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNTCS,volume 11758)


Formal methods provide systematic and rigorous techniques for software development. We are convinced that they must be taught in Software Engineering curricula. In this paper, we present a set of formal methods courses included in a Software Engineering & Security track of ENSIIE, École Nationale Supérieure d’Informatique pour l’Industrie et l’Entreprise, a French engineering school delivering the Ingénieur de l’ENSIIE degree (master level). These techniques have been taught over the last fifteen years in our education programs in different formats. One of the difficulty we encounter is that students consider these kinds of techniques difficult and requiring much work and thus are inclined to choose other courses when they can. Furthermore, students are strongly focused on the direct applicability of the knowledge they are taught, and they are not all going to pursue a professional career in the development of critical systems. Our experience shows that students can gain confidence in formal methods when they understand that, through a rigorous mathematical approach to system specification, they acquire knowledge, skills and abilities that will be useful in their professional future as Computer Scientists/Engineers.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
USD   39.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD   54.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Learn about institutional subscriptions


  1. 1.

    Course catalogue can be found at

  2. 2.

    In parenthesis appear the languages used to illustrate the different concepts.

  3. 3.

    The authors of this paper are teaching these courses.

  4. 4.

  5. 5.

  6. 6.

    The lab session text is at the following url

  7. 7.

    Answers can be found at


  1. Abrial, J.: The B-Book - Assigning Programs to Meanings. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2005)

    MATH  Google Scholar 

  2. Abrial, J.: Modeling in Event-B - System and Software Engineering. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2010)

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  3. Barendregt, H.: Introduction to generalized type systems. J. Funct. Program. 1(2), 125–154 (1991)

    CrossRef  MathSciNet  Google Scholar 

  4. Barthe, G., D’Argenio, P.R., Rezk, T.: Secure information flow by self-composition. Math. Struct. Comput. Sci. 21(6), 1207–1252 (2011)

    CrossRef  MathSciNet  Google Scholar 

  5. Bechtold, S., Brannen, S., Link, J., Merdes, M., Philipp, M., Stein, C.: J Unit 5 User Guide.

  6. Blanchard, A., Kosmatov, N., Loulergue, F.: Ghosts for lists: a critical module of contiki verified in frama-C. In: Dutle, A., Muñoz, C., Narkawicz, A. (eds.) NFM 2018. LNCS, vol. 10811, pp. 37–53. Springer, Cham (2018).

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  7. Blazy, S., Bühler, D., Yakobowski, B.: Structuring abstract interpreters through state and value abstractions. In: Bouajjani, A., Monniaux, D. (eds.) VMCAI 2017. LNCS, vol. 10145, pp. 112–130. Springer, Cham (2017).

    CrossRef  MATH  Google Scholar 

  8. Dubois, C., Ménissier-Morain, V.: Apprentissage de la Programmation avec OCaml. Hermès Sciences, Cachan (2004)

    Google Scholar 

  9. Filliâtre, J.-C., Paskevich, A.: Why3 — where programs meet provers. In: Felleisen, M., Gardner, P. (eds.) ESOP 2013. LNCS, vol. 7792, pp. 125–128. Springer, Heidelberg (2013).

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  10. Huynh, N., Frappier, M., Mammar, A., Laleau, R., Desharnais, J.: A formal validation of the RBAC ANSI 2012 standard using B. Sci. Comput. Program. 131, 76–93 (2016)

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  11. Jarrar, A., Balouki, Y.: Formal modeling of a complex adaptive air traffic control system. CASM 6, 6 (2018)

    Google Scholar 

  12. Kirchner, F., Kosmatov, N., Prevosto, V., Signoles, J., Yakobowski, B.: Frama-c: a software analysis perspective. Formal Asp. Comput. 27(3), 573–609 (2015)

    CrossRef  MathSciNet  Google Scholar 

  13. Kosmatov, N., Williams, N., Botella, B., Roger, M.: Structural unit testing as a service with In: SOSE, pp. 435–440. IEEE Computer Society (2013)

    Google Scholar 

  14. Lecomte, T., Déharbe, D., Prun, É., Mottin, E.: Applying a formal method in industry: a 25-Year trajectory. In: Cavalheiro, S., Fiadeiro, J. (eds.) SBMF 2017. LNCS, vol. 10623, pp. 70–87. Springer, Cham (2017).

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  15. Miné, A.: A new numerical abstract domain based on difference-bound matrices. CoRR, abs/cs/0703073 (2007)

    Google Scholar 

  16. Monniaux, D., Gonnord, L.: Cell morphing: from array programs to array-free horn clauses. In: Rival, X. (ed.) SAS 2016. LNCS, vol. 9837, pp. 361–382. Springer, Heidelberg (2016).

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  17. Pierce, B.C.: Types and Programming Languages. MIT Press, Cambridge (2002)

    MATH  Google Scholar 

  18. Roşu, G., Şerbănuţă, T.F.: An overview of the K semantic framework. J. Logic Algebraic Program. 79(6), 397–434 (2010)

    CrossRef  MathSciNet  Google Scholar 

  19. Vistbakka, I., Troubitsyna, E.: Towards Integrated Modelling of Dynamic Access Control with UML and Event-B. arXiv e-prints, May (2018)

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

Download references


We would like to thank all the colleagues who participated or participate to that set of formal courses. We cite some of them (in any order): S. Blazy, R. Laleau, J. Signoles, X. Urbain, P. Courtieu, F. Gervais, G. Berthelot, A. Mammar, T. Le Gall, R. Rioboo, C. Mouilleron, D. Watel, J. Falampin, C. Métayer, N. Kushik, A. Djoudi. Finally, we mention and thank late P. Facon who introduced a course at ENSIIE about formal specification with VDM in the late 90s and thus opened a specific route.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Guillaume Burel .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2019 Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this paper

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this paper

Dubois, C., Prevosto, V., Burel, G. (2019). Teaching Formal Methods to Future Engineers. In: Dongol, B., Petre, L., Smith, G. (eds) Formal Methods Teaching. FMTea 2019. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 11758. Springer, Cham.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-32440-7

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-32441-4

  • eBook Packages: Computer ScienceComputer Science (R0)