Formal Verification of Parallel Programs

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Computer Science (HMC)

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Two formal models for parallel computation are presented: an abstract conceptual model and a parallel-program model. The former model does not distinguish between control and data states. The latter model includes the capability for the representation of an infinite set of control states by allowing there to be arbitrarily many instruction pointers (or processes) executing the program. An induction principle is presented which treats the control and data state sets on the same ground. Through the use of “place variables,” it is observed that certain correctness conditions can be expressed without enumeration of the set of all possible control states. Examples are presented in which the induction principle is used to demonstrate proofs of mutual exclusion. It is shown that assertions-oriented proof methods are special cases of the induction principle. A special case of the assertions method, which is called parallel place assertions, is shown to be incomplete. A formalization of “deadlock” is then presented. The concept of a “norm” is introduced, which yields an extension, to the deadlock problem, of Floyd's technique for proving termination. Also discussed is an extension of the program model which allows each process to have its own local variables and permits shared global variables. Correctness of certain forms of implementation is also discussed. An Appendix is included which relates this work to previous work on the satisfiability of certain logical formulas.

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©1976 Association for Computing Machinery

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