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Automated Approaches for Formal Verification of Embedded Systems Artifacts


Publication Type:

Doctoral Thesis


Mälardalen University Press


Modern embedded software is so large and complex that creating the necessary artifacts, including system requirements specifications and design-time models, as well as assuring their correctness have become difficult to manage. One challenge stems from the high number and intricacy of system requirements that combine functional and possibly timing or other types of constraints, which make them hard to analyze. Another challenge is the quality assurance of various design-time models developed using Simulink as the de facto standard model-based development tool in the automotive domain, avionics domain, etc. Currently, the industrial state-of-practice resorts to simulation of Simulink models, which gives insight in the system’s behavior yet does not provide a high degree of assurance that the model behaves correctly. A potential way to address the aforementioned challenges is to apply computer-aided, mathematically-rigorous methods for specification, analysis and verification already at the requirements specification stage, but also at later development stages.In this thesis, we propose a set of approaches for the formal specification, analysis and verification of system requirement specifications and design-time Simulink models, with particular focus on the automotive industry. Our contributions are as follows: first, we assess the expressiveness of an existing pattern-based technique for the formal requirements specification on an operational system. Based on the positive findings, we deem the technique expressive enough to capture systems requirements in controlled natural language, from which formal counterparts can be automatically generated. To bring the approach closer to the practitioners we propose a tool, called PROPAS. Next, we propose an automated consistency analysis approach based on Satisfiability Modulo Theories for the system requirements specifications formally encoded as temporal logic formulas. The approach is implemented in our PROPAS tool and is suitable to analyze the lack of logical contradictions within the system specification, at early system development phases. Our next contribution addresses the formal analysis and verification of large Simulink models. First, we propose a pattern-based and execution-order-preserving approach for transforming Simulink models into networks of stochastic timed automata, which can be analyzed using the UPPAAL SMC tool that returns the probability that a property is satisfied by the model. For the automated generation of the analysis model, we propose the SIMPPAAL tool. Our second approach is based on bounded model checking and is suitable for checking invariance properties of Simulink models. Compared to the statistical model checking approach, the invariance checking is reduced to a satisfiability problem. In case of property violation, the procedure generates a counter-example execution trace, which can be used for refining the model. In the same work we show that there exist commonly-used design patterns in Simulink models, for which the verification result is complete. The approach is supported by our SYMC tool.For validation of the specification patterns, and the PROPAS tool we perform a case-study evaluation with practitioners, in collaboration with our industrial partner Scania. The results show that the pattern-based approach and the PROPAS tool can be practically useful in industrial settings. We apply the statistical model-checking approach and the SIMPPAAL tool on two industrial use cases, namely Brake-by-Wire and Adjustable Speed Limiter from Volvo Group Trucks Technology, which yields encouraging results. Finally, we validate the bounded invariance-checking approach and the SYMC tool on the Brake-by-Wire system, where we demonstrate both complete and incomplete verification of invariance properties.


author = {Predrag Filipovikj},
title = {Automated Approaches for Formal Verification of Embedded Systems Artifacts},
isbn = {978-91-7485-429-9},
month = {May},
year = {2019},
school = {M{\"a}lardalen University Press},
url = {}