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New Applications of Software Synthesis: Verification of Configuration Files and Firewall Repair

Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNPSE,volume 11002)


The main goal of software synthesis is to automatically derive code from a given specification. The specification can be either explicitly written, or specified through a couple of representative examples illustrating the user’s intent. However, sometimes there is no specification and we need to infer the specification from a given environment. This paper present two such efforts.

We first show, using verification for configuration files, how to learn specification when the given examples is actually a set of configuration files. Software failures resulting from configuration errors have become commonplace as modern software systems grow increasingly large and more complex. The lack of language constructs in configuration files, such as types and grammars, has directed the focus of a configuration file verification towards building post-failure error diagnosis tools. We describe a framework which analyzes data sets of correct configuration files and derives rules for building a language model from the given data set. The resulting language model can be used to verify new configuration files and detect errors in them.

We next describe a systematic effort that can automatically repair firewalls, using the programming by example approach. Firewalls are widely employed to manage and control enterprise networks. Because enterprise-scale firewalls contain hundreds or thousands of policies, ensuring the correctness of firewalls – whether the policies in the firewalls meet the specifications of their administrators – is an important but challenging problem. In our approach, after an administrator observes undesired behavior in a firewall, she may provide input/output examples that comply with the intended behavior. Based on the given examples, we automatically synthesize new firewall rules for the existing firewall. This new firewall correctly handles packets specified by the examples, while maintaining the rest of the behavior of the original firewall.


  • Software synthesis
  • Program repair
  • Verification
  • Configuration files
  • Firewalls

R. Piskac—This research was sponsored by the NSF under grants CCF-1302327, CFF-1553168, and CCF-1715387.

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Correspondence to Ruzica Piskac .

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Piskac, R. (2018). New Applications of Software Synthesis: Verification of Configuration Files and Firewall Repair. In: Podelski, A. (eds) Static Analysis. SAS 2018. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 11002. Springer, Cham.

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