Forthcoming articles


International Journal of Critical Computer-Based Systems


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International Journal of Critical Computer-Based Systems (5 papers in press)


Regular Issues


  • A Formal Verification of Dynamic Updating in a Java-based Embedded System   Order a copy of this article
    by Razika Lounas, Mohamed Mezghiche, Jean-Louis Lanet 
    Abstract: Dynamic Software Updating (DSU) consists in updating running programs on the fly without any downtime. This feature is interesting in critical applications that must run continuously. Because updates may lead to safety errors and security breaches, the question of their correctness is raised. Formal methods are a rigorous means to ensure the correctness required by applications using DSU. In this paper, we present a formal verification of correctness of DSU in a Java-based embedded system. Our approach is based on three major contributions. First, a formal interpretation of the semantics of update operations to ensure type safety of the update. Secondly, we rely on a functional representation of bytecode, the predicate transformation calculus, and a functional model of the update mechanism to ensure the behavioral correctness of the updated programs. It is based on the use of Hoare predicate transformation to derive a specification of an updated bytecode. Thirdly, we use the functional representation to model the safe update point detection mechanism. This mechanism guarantees that none of the updated method active methods are active. This property is called activeness safety. We propose a functional specification that allows to derive proof obligations that guarantee the safety of the mechanism.
    Keywords: Dynamic software updating; formal methods; weakest precondition calculus; Dynamic update safety.

  • uQC: A Property-Based Testing Framework for L4 Microkernels   Order a copy of this article
    by Cosmin Dragomir, Lucian Mogosanu, Mihai Carabas, Razvan Deaconescu, Nicolae Tapus 
    Abstract: As the complexity of software is ever increasing, traditional testing methods are unable to provide a high level of assurance with respect to the absence of implementation errors in software systems. In particular, operating system kernels represent a fundamental software component of computing systems, given their role of mediating user access to hardware resources. At the same time, formal verification of functional correctness of software proves to be a costly and difficult task even for microkernels. Microkernels implement only a minimal set of functionalities, while being relied on for applications with high security and/or safety requirements such as automotive software or dedicated cellular radio processors. We aim to find a trade-off between the strong guarantees of formal verification and the flexibility of traditional software testing methods such as unit testing, in order to verify that an L4 microkernel is ideally bug-free. To this end, we argue that this trade-off is provided by the method called property-based testing; property-based testing starts from a formal specification of the Application Programming Interface (API) and automatically generates test cases that make use of its functionality. In this paper we present the first steps towards this goal. Thus we describe the design and implementation of μQC, a property-based testing framework running as an user space application on top of an L4 microkernel (which we call VMXL4). We then give a summary of μQCs usage and we show that a subset of the L4 microkernel API can be automatically tested with a minimal amount of effort from the programmer.
    Keywords: Software Testing; Property-Based Testing; L4 Microkernel; API.

  • A Methodological Approach for Checking Safety-Critical Systems Software   Order a copy of this article
    by Luis E. Mendoza Morales, Manuel I. Capel 
    Abstract: The complexity of modern safety-critical systems together with the absence of appropriate software verification tools is one reason for the large number of errors in the design and implementation of these systems. A methodological approach named Formal Compositional Verification Approach that uses model checking techniques to verify safety-critical systems software is presented. This approach facilitates decomposition of complex safety-critical systems software into independently verified individual software components, and establishes a compositional method to verify these systems using state-of-the-art model checkers. Our objective in this paper is to facilitate the description of a safety-critical system software as a collection of verified software components, allowing the software verification of complex safety-critical systems. An application on a real-life software project in the field of mobile phone communication is discussed to demonstrate the applicability of the proposed approach.
    Keywords: Methodological approach; Safety-critical systems software; Model checking; Software verification; Software specification; Compositional verification.

  • Software Semantics and Syntax as a Tool for Automated Test Generation   Order a copy of this article
    by Nadia Nahar, Kazi Sakib 
    Abstract: Test automation saves time and cost by digitizing test generation and execution. The existing techniques fail to produce effective and compilable test scripts for not considering both syntactic and semantic information. The proposed three-layer architecture incorporates these information for generation of proper test scripts. It analyzes the source code for extracting syntax and UML diagrams for obtaining semantics. Class methods and sequence of calls are extracted from UMLs, and syntax for class instantiations and method calls are accumulated from source code to generate unit and integration tests. A case study as well as experiments, conducted on sample Java projects, conform the competence of the generation process along with the generated test scripts.
    Keywords: software testing; test automation; automatic test generation; unit testing; integration testing.

Special Issue on: VECoS'2015/16 Modelling and Verification

  • Fault Diagnosis of Discrete-Event systems Based on the Symbolic Observation Graph   Order a copy of this article
    by Abderraouf Boussif, Mohamed Ghazel, Kais Klai 
    Abstract: Fault diagnosis of Discrete-Event Systems (DESs) has received a lot of attention in industry and academia during the last two decades. In DESbased diagnosis, the two main discussed topics are offline diagnosability analysis and online diagnosis. A pioneering approach that led to the development of various techniques is based on the so-called diagnoser, which is a deterministic automaton used for both diagnosability analysis and online diagnosis if the system is diagnosable. However, this approach suffers from the combinatorial explosion problem due to the exponential complexity of construction. Thus, the diagnoser approach is no longer adequate when dealing with large complex systems. To partially overcome this problem, an efficient approach to construct a symbolic diagnoser is proposed in this paper. The proposed approach consists in constructing a diagnoser based on the Symbolic Observation Graph (SOG), which combines symbolic and enumarative representations in order to build a determinitic observer from a partially observed model. The symbolic observation graph was firstly used for the formal verification using event-based modelchecking as an efficient alternative to the Kripke structure. Besides, the construction of the diagnoser as well as the verification of diagnosability are performed simultaneously on the fly, which can considerably reduce the generated state space of the diagnoser and thus the overall running time. In order to evaluate the efficiency and the scalability of the proposed approach, some experimental and comparative results relatively to other existing methods are presented and discussed, on the basis of a DES benchmark.
    Keywords: Discrete-Event Systems; Diagnosability Analysis; Symbolic Observer Graph; On-the-Fly Verification.