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In the past decades we have witnessed major advances in the power of automated reasoning engines like Satisfiability Modulo Theories (SMT) and Horn clause solvers. As a consequence, there has been a renaissance of software verification based on this technology. Currently, there are a number of mature verifiers available coming both from academia and industry. However, despite these advances, the bar for newcomer researchers to contribute to this field is still very high. One of the main obstacles is the very large cost of development of a new software verifier from scratch. Hence, several groups have been independently working on implementing open software verification infrastructures, which would allow for easier prototyping of research ideas in this space, e.g., new algorithms for verifying relational or timing properties, thereby democratizing software verification.

This workshop aims to bring together the developers of open software verification infrastructures and their potential clients, meaning researchers and practitioners interested in developing prototypes of software verification algorithms. We will structure the workshop to facilitate the exchange of ideas and discussions between the developers and clients. Hence, the workshop will include invited talks on core verification infrastructures as well as presentations of projects that already leverage these infrastructures. We also hope to attract potential new clients as well, who would present the requirements of their projects through a series of lightning talks. Through open discussions we will solicit feedback from the community on the requirements and functionality that open research infrastructures should include to make them more widely usable.

As further discussion topics, we will solicit talks and feedback on benchmarking issues, reproducibility, input languages, and potential license issues, all of which are important to have a viable software verification research ecosystem that can be leveraged by both industry and academia.


Ullmann 300, The Technion, Haifa, Israel


Time Description
8:30-9:00 Coffee and Refreshments
9:00-9:45 Elizabeth Polgreen (University of Edinburgh) and Yatin Manerkar (University of Michigan): UCLID5: Multi-Modal Formal Modeling, Verification, and Synthesis
9:45-10:30 Kuldeep Meel (National University of Singapore): Democratizing SAT Solving
10:30-11:00 Coffee Break
11:00-11:45 Zafer Esen (Uppsala University): Eldarica and TriCera: Towards an Open Verification Framework
11:45-12:30 Gennaro Parlato (University of Molise): C2C-Trans as a Design Methodology for Software Verification Tools
12:30-14:00 Lunch Break
14:00-14:45 Yakir Vizel (Technion): Solving Constrained Horn Clauses Lazily and Incrementally
14:45-15:30 Hila Peleg (Technion): Interaction Models vs. Formal Models: Synthesis Co-Design
15:30-16:00 Coffee Break
16:00-16:45 Jaroslav Bendik (Certora): Formal Verification of Ethereum Smart Contracts: SMT-Based Approaches and Challenges
16:45-17:30 Matthias Schlaipfer (Amazon Web Services): Achieving Verified Cloud Authorization
18:00-19:30 Workshop Dinner, Paid Event (Technion, Taub Terrace Floor 2)

Invited Speakers

Elizabeth Polgreen (University of Edinburgh) and Yatin Manerkar (University of Michigan):

UCLID5: Multi-Modal Formal Modeling, Verification, and Synthesis

Abstract: UCLID5 is a tool for the multi-modal formal modeling, verification, and synthesis of systems. It enables one to tackle verification problems for heterogeneous systems such as combinations of hardware and software, or those that have multiple, varied specifications, or systems that require hybrid modes of modeling. A novel aspect of UCLID5 is an emphasis on the use of syntax-guided and inductive synthesis to automate steps in modeling and verification. In this talk we will present new developments in the UCLID5 tool including new language features, integration with new techniques for syntax-guided synthesis and satisfiability solving, support for hyperproperties and combinations of axiomatic and operational modeling, demonstrations on new problem classes, and a robust implementation.

Short bios: Yatin A. Manerkar is an Assistant Professor in the Computer Science and Engineering Division at the University of Michigan. His research lies on the boundary between formal methods and computer architecture, and develops automated formal methdologies and tools for the design and verification of computing systems. He is a contributor to the UCLID5 verification framework.

Elizabeth Polgreen is an Assistant Professor in the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh. Her research focuses on formal synthesis and verification, and the integration of the two. She is one of the main developers of the UCLID5 tool, so please get in touch with her if you have applications for UCLID5 in mind.

Kuldeep Meel (National University of Singapore): Democratizing SAT Solving

Abstract: Boolean satisfiability is a fundamental problem in computer science with a wide range of applications including planning, configuration management, design and verification of software/hardware systems. The annual SAT competition continues to witness impressive improvements in the performance of the winning SAT solvers largely thanks to the development of new heuristics arising out of intensive collaborative research in the SAT community. Modern SAT solvers achieve scalability and robustness with complex heuristics that are challenging to understand and explain. Consequently, the development of new algorithmic insights has been largely restricted to experts in the SAT community.

I will describe our project that boldly aims to democratise the design of SAT solvers. In particular, our project, called CrystalBall, seeks to develop a framework to provide white-box access to the execution of SAT solver that can aid both SAT solver developers and users to synthesize algorithmic heuristics for modern SAT solvers?We view modern conflict-driven clause learning (CDCL) solvers as a composition of classifiers and regressors for different tasks such as branching, clause memory management, and restarting, and we aim to provide a data-driven automated heuristic design mechanism that can allow experts in domains outside SAT community to contribute to the development of SAT solvers.

Short bio: Kuldeep Meel holds the NUS Presidential Young Professorship in the School of Computing at the National University of Singapore. His research interests lie at the intersection of Formal Methods and Artificial Intelligence. He is a recipient of the 2019 NRF Fellowship for AI and was named AI’s 10 to Watch by IEEE Intelligent Systems in 2020. His research program’s recent recognitions include the 2022 ACM SIGMOD Research Highlight, IJCAI-22 Early Career Spotlight, 2021 Amazon Research Award, “Best of PODS-21” invite from ACM TODS, “Best Papers of CAV-20” invite from FMSD journal, IJCAI-19 Sister conferences best paper award track invitation.

Zafer Esen (Uppsala University): Eldarica and TriCera: Towards an Open Verification Framework

Abstract: This talk will give a hands-on introduction to the software verification infrastructure consisting of the Horn solver Eldarica and the C model checker TriCera. After giving a high-level overview, the presenter will provide examples on how the tools can be used / extended for prototyping research ideas. Both tools are open-source and implemented in Scala.

Eldarica is a Horn solver that supports, among others, Horn clauses over the theories of integers, algebraic data-types, bit-vectors, arrays and the novel theory of heaps that simplifies encoding programs with heaps. Input clauses go through several preprocessing stages such as slicing, reachability analysis and inlining before being passed on to the main CEGAR engine that attempts to construct an abstract reachability graph that witnesses their satisfiability.

TriCera is a model checker for C programs that encodes input programs and specifications into a set of Horn clauses that can then be input to a Horn solver such as Eldarica or Z3/Spacer. TriCera mainly uses Eldarica for this purpose due to the tight integration of the tools and the theory of heaps. TriCera accepts most programs written in C11, and provides several other features useful for researchers: the declaration and usage of uninterpreted predicates that can be seen as a form of inline assembler for Horn clauses, which simplify experimenting with various encodings, automatic inference of loop invariants and function contracts, parsing ACSL function contracts, timing constraints in C programs (similar to UPPAAL timed automata), concurrency.

Short bio: Zafer Esen is a PhD student at Uppsala University under the supervision of Philipp Rummer, Tjark Weber and Wang Yi. He is one of the main developers of the Horn-based C model checker TriCera. Over the past four years he has also contributed to the Eldarica Horn and the Princess SMT solvers, mainly to support the theory of heaps.

Gennaro Parlato (University of Molise): C2C-Trans as a Design Methodology for Software Verification Tools

Abstract: I will report on a number of tools we have designed and implemented for the analysis of multi-threaded C programs. Our solutions share the common pattern of rewriting the original program into an equivalent non-deterministic sequential C program that is then fed to an existing well-performing model-checking tool for the analysis. Our translations have been optimized to take maximum advantage of the back-end technology used for the analysis. Using this paradigm we have designed a few bug-finding approaches that use back-ends based on bounded model-checking, as well as approaches to prove the correctness of programs. I will also report on recent approaches that we are developing to develop distributed bug-finding algorithms that make use of the large availability of processors provided by computer clusters or cloud computing platforms.

Short bio: Gennaro Parlato is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at the University of Molise (UNIMOL) where he leads the Program Analysis in Clouds (PAC) research group. Before joining UNIMOL, Gennaro enjoyed a long international research career. Between 2006 and 2011, he worked as a postdoctoral research associate, first in the Department of Computer Science at UIUC (Urbana, USA, May 2006-March 2010), and then in the Modeling and Verification research group at LIAFA (now IRIF) Laboratory (Paris, France, April 2010-April 2011). From 2011 to 2018, Gennaro was an academic at the University of Southampton’s Department of Electronics and Computer Science, first as a Lecturer and then as an Associate Professor. While at the University of Southampton, Gennaro was also a member of the GCHQ/EPSRC Academic Centre of Excellence for Cybersecurity Research. Gennaro received his doctorate in Computer Science from the University of Salerno, Italy, in April 2006. Gennaro is interested in software verification and in building reliable and secure software systems using formal correctness techniques.

Yakir Vizel (Technion): Solving Constrained Horn Clauses Lazily and Incrementally

Abstract: Constrained Horn Clauses (CHCs) is a fragment of First Order Logic (FOL), that has gained a lot of attention in recent years. One of the main reasons for the rising interest in CHCs is the ability to reduce many verification problems to satisfiability of CHCs. For example, program verification can naturally be described as the satisfiability of CHCs modulo a background theory such as linear arithmetic and arrays. To this end, CHC-solvers can be used as the back-end for different verification tools and allow to separate the generation of verification conditions from the decision procedure that decides if the verification conditions are correct or not.

In this talk, we present a novel framework, called LazyHorn, that is aimed at solving the satisfiability problem of CHCs modulo a background theory. The framework is driven by the idea that a set of CHCs can be solved in parts, making it an easier problem for the CHC-solver. Furthermore, solving a set of CHCs can benefit from an interpretation revealed by the solver for its subsets. LazyHorn is lazy in that it gradually extends the set of checked CHCs, as needed. It is also incremental in its use of a CHC solver, supplying it with an interpretation, obtained for previously checked subsets. We have implemented an efficient instance of the framework that is restricted to a fragment of CHCs called linear CHCs.

Short bio: Yakir Vizel is an Assistant Professor in the Computer Science Department at The Technion. Previously he was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Princeton University in the Electrical Engineering Department. He has received a B.Sc. in Mathematics and CS from the Technion and a Ph.D. in CS from the Technion. He has worked on developing Formal Verification algorithms and tools for hardware and software verification at Intel, Jasper Design Automation, Cadence, Mellanox and NVIDIA.

Hila Peleg (Technion): Interaction Models vs. Formal Models: Synthesis Co-Design

Abstract: Program synthesis is the problem of generating a program to satisfy a specification of user intent. Since these specifications are usually partial, this means searching a space of candidate programs for one that exhibits the desired behavior. A lion’s share of the work on program synthesis focuses on new ways to perform the search, but allowing the user to communicate intent remains a major challenge.

This talk focuses on the complex relationship between user intent, specifications, and interaction model. In the domain of program synthesis, we narrow our focus by targeting a more specific category of users. Focusing on any subgroup of users allows making assumptions on both the input the user can generate for the synthesizer and the output they can consume. In the case of developers, concepts that are part of the programmer’s life such as code review and read-eval-print loops (REPL) can be leveraged for interactions with a synthesizer. The talk describes two synthesis-based tools that both leverage and cater to programmers as their users.

These assumptions also drive ways in which the hard problems of formal methods can be delegated to incomplete assistants: (bounded resource) solvers are a community favorite, and ML models are also gaining traction as an approach for deciding a hard subproblem. A third option, less sound than a solver and less decisive than a model, is a human: delegating parts of the task back to the user ensures that they are solved to the user’s satisfaction. But how to make the user work for the tool, rather than the other way around, is a critical issue that must be addressed at the intersection of intent, specification, and interaction model.

Synthesizer design shows us how these elements can be at odds with each other, in particular the tension between the interface and state of the art synthesis techniques. Synthesis is, at best, a computationally hard problem, and many existing program synthesis tools and techniques were designed around the synthesizer and its internals, their user interface dictated by the needs of the synthesizer. We demonstrate the process of concurrently building both the synthesizer and its intended user-facing tool as a way to search for a balance of the needs of the interaction model (and, implicitly, the user) and the algorithm.

Short bio: Hila Peleg is an Assistant Professor at the Technion in Haifa, Israel. She recieved her PhD at the Technion, Israel and was a postdoctoral researcher at UC San Diego with Nadia Polikarpova. Her research explores the way PL technology in general and program synthesis specifically can be transformed into tools for developers.

Jaroslav Bendik (Certora): Formal Verification of Ethereum Smart Contracts: SMT-Based Approaches and Challenges

Abstract: Ethereum Smart Contracts become a widely adopted technology to build Decentralized Financial Applications (DeFis) and as such, they already hold 200 billion USDs. Consequently, bugs in smart contracts can be exploited by malicious users and can lead to losses at the scale of millions or even billions of USDs. To prevent such situations from happening, there has been a growing interest in developing scalable formal verification techniques for this domain. In this talk, we will specifically focus on the architecture of the Certora Verification Tool, i.e. an industrial standard automated prover technology to verify smart contracts. Besides a brief overview of the overall tool architecture, we will focus mainly on the SMT-based subroutines,including features such as domain-specific CEGAR methodology,distributed solver-portfolio approach, or techniques to share and exploit information between individual SMT solvers.

Short bio: Jaroslav received his Ph.D. in the areas of formal verification and constraint processing. He is the main developer of several state-of-the-art tools for analysing infeasible Boolean and SMT constraint systems (e.g., UNIMUS or ReMUS), and his work was published at more than a dozen major conferences in the field. After following an academic career path as a postdoc at National University of Singapore and Max Planck Institute for Software Systems, Jaroslav switched to industry and nowadays is a core researcher and developer of the SMT prover technology at Certora.

Matthias Schlaipfer (Amazon Web Services): Achieving Verified Cloud Authorization

Abstract: Amazon Web Services (AWS) authorizes over 43 trillion requests per day. AWS has a custom language for specifying access control policies and a corresponding authorization engine. For each request, the authorization engine determines whether access should be granted or denied based on the relevant policies. In this talk, we describe our experience verifying the authorization engine in the context of a large, actively developed code base where many developers are not familiar with formal methods. We use Dafny, a verification-aware programming language, to specify authorization at a high level, implement it efficiently, and prove properties of the algorithm.

Authorization executes on a JVM, so we decided to compile the Dafny implementation to Java. To earn trust with developers, we insisted at the start that any generated code should be reviewable by anyone familiar with Java. Dafny’s built-in Java compiler does not generate readable code, so we wrote a custom compiler that generates idiomatic Java from our Dafny implementation. The Java code is reviewed in the same way as every other piece of code at Amazon.

Beyond human code review of the generated code, we use a multi-layered approach to ensure the correctness of the custom compiler: We verify compiler passes in Dafny, but also use techniques such as standard software testing and fuzzing. Additionally, our compiler generates program annotations which let us leverage the capabilities of well-established software analysis tools such as CheckerFramework, to establish properties of the generated code such as null-correctness.

Short bio: Matthias Schlaipfer is an Applied Scientist at AWS in Berlin where he works on formal verification of authorization and how to integrate automated reasoning tools such as Dafny into traditional software engineering workflows. Before joining Amazon he was a Project Assistant at TU Wien where he worked on proof-based program synthesis.


Please register for the workshop through the FLoC registration page.


This workshop will be held on August 11, 2022, and colocated with the 34th International Conference on Computer-Aided Verification (CAV). The workshop is chaired by developers of SMACK and SeaHorn: