Date of Award

12-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Embargo Date

12-31-2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Advisor(s)

C. Y. Roger Chen

Keywords

Message passing systems, IDEs, Code development

Subject Categories

Computer Engineering

Abstract

Message passing systems support the applications of concurrent events, where independent or semi-independent events occur simultaneously in a nondeterministic fashion. The nature of independence, random interactions and concurrency made the code development of such applications complicated and error-prone. Conventional code development environments or IDEs, such as Microsoft Visual Studio, provide little programming support in this regard. Furthermore, ensuring the correctness of a message passing system is a challenge. Typically, it is important to guarantee that a system meets its desired specifications along its construction process. Model checking is one of the techniques used in software verification which has proven to be effective in discovering hidden design and implementation errors. The required advanced knowledge of formal methods and temporal languages is one of the impediments in adopting model checking by software developers. To integrate model checking environments and conventional IDEs, this dissertation proposes a multi-phase development framework that facilitates designing, verifying, implementing and debugging state-based message passing systems. The techniques and design principles of the proposed framework focus on improving and easing the software development experience. In the first phase, a two-level design methodology is proposed through using abstract high-level communication blocks and hierarchical state-behavioral descriptions that were developed in this research. In the second phase, a new method based on choosing from a pre-determined set of patterns in concurrent communication properties is proposed to facilitate collecting the essential specifications of the system where the atomic propositions are linked with the system design. A complex property can be attained by hierarchically nesting some of these patterns. A procedure to automatically generate formal models in a model checker (MC) language is proposed. Once the model that contains both the design and the properties of the system are generated, a model checker is used to verify the correctness of the proposed system and ensure its compliance with specifications. To help in locating the source of an undesired specification, if any, a procedure to map a counter example generated by the MC to the original design is presented. In the third phase, a skeleton code of the design specification is generated in a general programming language such as Microsoft C\#, Java, etc. moreover, the ability to debug the generated code using a conventional IDE while tracing the debugging process back to the original design was established. Finally, a graphical software tool that supports the proposed framework is developed where SPIN MC is used as a verifier. The tool was used to develop and verify several case studies. The proposed framework and the developed software tool can be considered a key solution for message passing systems design and verification.

Access

Open Access