Parallel Model Checking Using Abstraction

  • Ethan Burns
  • Rong Zhou
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 7385)


Many model checking techniques are based on enumerative graph search, a procedure that is known to be prohibitively time and memory consuming. Modern multi-core processors rely on parallelism instead of raw clock speed to provide increased performance, so it is necessary to leverage this parallelism to achieve better performance in model checking. In this work, we compare hash-distributed search, a well-known parallel search technique for model checking, with an algorithm from the automated planning and heuristic search community called Parallel Structured Duplicate Detection (PSDD). We show that PSDD has two major advantages over hash-distributed search for multi-core model checking. First, PSDD is able to perform full partial-order reduction where hash-distributed search must be conservative and subsequently miss reduction opportunities in many cases, causing it to search a much larger space. Second, PSDD performs duplicate detection on states immediately, avoiding the need to store duplicate states for inter-thread communication. We have implemented and compared both techniques in the Spin model checker; our results show that PSDD uses significantly less memory than hash-distributed search, can be faster and give better parallel speedup than both hash-distributed search and Spin’s built-in parallel depth-first search. Finally, we show how PSDD can use external memory, such as disk storage, to greatly reduce its internal memory requirements.


Model Check Hash Function Hash Table Abstract Graph Single Thread 
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.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Biere, A., Artho, C., Schuppan, V.: Liveness checking as safety checking. In: FMICS 2002: Formal Methods for Industrial Critical Systems. ENTCS, vol. 66(2) (2002)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bošnački, D., Holzmann, G.J.: Improving Spin’s Partial-Order Reduction for Breadth-First Search. In: Godefroid, P. (ed.) SPIN 2005. LNCS, vol. 3639, pp. 91–105. Springer, Heidelberg (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Burns, E., Lemons, S., Ruml, W., Zhou, R.: Best-first heuristic search for multicore machines. Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research 39, 689–743 (2010)MathSciNetzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Dong, Y., Du, X., Holzmann, G.J., Smolka, S.A.: Fighting livelock in the GNU i-Protocol: A case study in explicit-state model checking. International Journal on Software Tools for Technology Transfer (STTT) 4(4), 505–528 (2003)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Dwyer, M.B., Elbaum, S., Person, S., Purandare, R.: Parallel randomized state-space search. In: Proceedings of the 29th International Conference on Software Engineering, ICSE 2007, pp. 3–12 (2007)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Evett, M., Hendler, J., Mahanti, A., Nau, D.: PRA* - massively-parallel heuristic-search. Journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing 25(2), 133–143 (1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Holzmann, G.J.: The Spin Model Checker: Primer and Reference Manual. Addison-Wesley (2004)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Holzmann, G.J., Bošnački, D.: The design of a multicore extension of the spin model checker. IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering 33(10), 659–674 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Holzmann, G.J., Peled, D.: An improvement in formal verification. In: Proceedings of the 7th IFIP WG6.1 International Conference on Formal Description Techniques, FORTE 1994 (1994)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Holzmann, G.J., Joshi, R., Groce, A.: Tackling Large Verification Problems with the Swarm Tool. In: Havelund, K., Majumdar, R. (eds.) SPIN 2008. LNCS, vol. 5156, pp. 134–143. Springer, Heidelberg (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Jabbar, S., Edelkamp, S.: Parallel External Directed Model Checking with Linear I/O. In: Emerson, E.A., Namjoshi, K.S. (eds.) VMCAI 2006. LNCS, vol. 3855, pp. 237–251. Springer, Heidelberg (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Kishimoto, A., Fukunaga, A., Botea, A.: Scalable, parallel best-first search for optimal sequential planning. In: Proceedings of the Nineteenth International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling, ICAPS 2009 (2009)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Korf, R.: Linear-time disk-based implicit graph search. Journal of the ACM 35(6) (2008)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Pike, R., Presotto, D., Dorward, S., Flandrena, B., Thompson, K., Trickey, H., Winterbottom, P.: Plan 9 from Bell Labs. Computing Systems 8(3), 221–254 (1995)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Reif, J.H.: Depth-first search is inherently sequential. Information Processing Letters 20(5), 229–234 (1985)MathSciNetzbMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Roscoe, A.W.: Model-checking csp. In: A Classical Mind, Essays in Honour of CAR Hoare, pp. 353–378. Prentice-Hall (1994)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Schuppan, V., Biere, A.: Efficient reduction of finite state model checking to reachability analysis. International Journal on Software Tools for Technology Transfer (STTT) 5(2-3), 185–204 (2004)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Stern, U., Dill, D.: Parallelizing the Murφ Verifier. In: Grumberg, O. (ed.) CAV 1997. LNCS, vol. 1254, pp. 256–267. Springer, Heidelberg (1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Zhou, R., Hansen, E.A.: Structured duplicate detection in external-memory graph search. In: Proceedings of the Nineteenth National Conference on Artificial Intelligence, AAAI 2004, pp. 683–688 (July 2004)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Zhou, R., Hansen, E.A.: Parallel structured duplicate detection. In: Proceedings of the Twenty-Second Conference on Artificial Intelligence, AAAI 2007, pp. 1217–1223 (2007)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Zhou, R., Hansen, E.A.: Dynamic state-space partitioning in external-memory graph search. In: Proceedings of the Twenty-First International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling, ICAPS 2011, pp. 290–297 (2011)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Zhou, R., Schmidt, T., Hansen, E.A., Do, M.B., Uckun, S.: Edge partitioning in parallel structured duplicate detection. In: The 2010 International Symposium on Combinatorial Search, SOCS 2010, pp. 137–138 (2010)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ethan Burns
    • 1
  • Rong Zhou
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA
  2. 2.High Performance Analytics AreaPalo Alto Research CenterPalo AltoUSA

Personalised recommendations