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Specification: The Biggest Bottleneck in Formal Methods and Autonomy

Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNPSE,volume 9971)

Abstract

Advancement of AI-enhanced control in autonomous systems stands on the shoulders of formal methods, which make possible the rigorous safety analysis autonomous systems require. An aircraft cannot operate autonomously unless it has design-time reasoning to ensure correct operation of the autopilot and runtime reasoning to ensure system health management, or the ability to detect and respond to off-nominal situations. Formal methods are highly dependent on the specifications over which they reason; there is no escaping the “garbage in, garbage out” reality. Specification is difficult, unglamorous, and arguably the biggest bottleneck facing verification and validation of aerospace, and other, autonomous systems.

This VSTTE invited talk and paper examines the outlook for the practice of formal specification, and highlights the on-going challenges of specification, from design-time to runtime system health management. We exemplify these challenges for specifications in Linear Temporal Logic (LTL) though the focus is not limited to that specification language. We pose challenge questions for specification that will shape both the future of formal methods, and our ability to more automatically verify and validate autonomous systems of greater variety and scale. We call for further research into LTL Genesis.

Keywords

  • Model Check
  • Linear Temporal Logic
  • Unman Aerial System
  • Linear Temporal Logic Formula
  • Sanity Check

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Thanks to NASA’s Autonomy Operating System (AOS) Project and NSF CAREER Award CNS-1552934 for supporting this work.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Note that the term functional patterns has been used in a different context: describing Requirements Specification Language (RSL) patterns for system state changes in response to external stimuli [2].

  2. 2.

    https://neo4j.com.

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Acknowledgments

Thanks to the VSTTE chairs Sandrine Blazy, Marsha Chechik, and Temesghen Kahsai for inviting this paper, which is the expansion of an invited talk delivered July 18, 2016. Thanks to Julia Badger for instigating the framing of the specification bottleneck as a series of questions for our NFM2014 panel. Thanks to André Platzer for encouraging me to update and expand on these challenges; a shorter, preliminary version of this talk appeared at the NSF Workshop on “Cyber-Physical System (CPS) Verification & Validation Industrial Challenges & Foundations (I&F): CPS and AI Safety” in May, 2016. (http://www.ls.cs.cmu.edu/CPSVVIF-2016/index.html.) Thanks to Arie Gurfinkel, Eric Rozier, and Johann Schumann for technical discussions on earlier drafts of this paper. Information on our recent work can be found at: http://laboratory.temporallogic.org.

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Rozier, K.Y. (2016). Specification: The Biggest Bottleneck in Formal Methods and Autonomy. In: Blazy, S., Chechik, M. (eds) Verified Software. Theories, Tools, and Experiments. VSTTE 2016. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 9971. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-48869-1_2

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