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Invisible formal methods for embedded control systems

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3 Author(s)
Tiwari, Ashish ; Comput. Sci. Lab., SRI Int., Menlo Park, CA, USA ; Shankar, N. ; Rushby, J.

Embedded control systems typically comprise continuous control laws combined with discrete mode logic. These systems are modeled using a hybrid automaton formalism, which is obtained by combining the discrete transition system formalism with continuous dynamical systems. This paper develops automated analysis techniques for asserting correctness of hybrid system designs. Our approach is based on symbolic representation of the state space of the system using mathematical formulas in an appropriate logic. Such formulas are manipulated using symbolic theorem proving techniques. It is important that formal analysis should be unobtrusive and acceptable to engineering practice. We motivate a methodology called invisible formal methods that provides a graded sequence of formal analysis technologies ranging from extended typechecking, through approximation and abstraction, to model checking and theorem proving. As an instance of invisible formal methods, we describe techniques to check inductive invariants, or extended types, for hybrid systems and compute discrete finite state abstractions automatically to perform reachability set computation. The abstract system is sound with respect to the formal semantics of hybrid automata. We also discuss techniques for performing analysis on nonstandard semantics of hybrid automata. We also briefly discuss the problem of translating models in Simulink/Stateflow language, which is widely used in practice, into the modeling formalisms, like hybrid automata, for which analysis tools are being developed.

Published in:

Proceedings of the IEEE  (Volume:91 ,  Issue: 1 )