Journal article  Open Access

Towards formal methods diversity in railways: an experience report with seven frameworks

Mazzanti F., Ferrari A., Spagnolo G. O.

CBTC  Deadlock avoidance  Railways  Formal methods diversity  Model checking  Information Systems  Software  Automatic train protection  Train scheduling 

In the ever expanding universe of formal methods, several tools exist that can be exploited to validate early system designs, and that are applicable to problems of the railway domain. In this paper, we present an experience report in formal modelling and verification using seven different formal environments, namely UMC, Promela/SPIN, NuSMV, mCRL2, CPN Tools, FDR4 and CADP. In particular, we model and verify an algorithm that addresses a typical railway problem, namely deadlock avoidance in train scheduling. The algorithm is designed according to a prototypical architecture, the so-called blackboard pattern, in which a set of global data are atomically updated by a set of concurrent guarded agents. Our experience, limited to the specific problem, shows that the design of the algorithm can be translated into the different formalisms with acceptable effort, while deep proficiency with the tools is required to optimise the performance. The current paper establishes the preliminary foundations for the concept of formal methods diversity in the development of railway systems. The concept is based on the idea that if different non-certified formal environments are used to verify the same design, this increases the confidence on the verification results. Furthermore, by checking that the number of states generated during the verification process is the same for each framework, the designer can have an initial indication of the equivalence of the diverse models. The industrial application of this promising concept requires further research, and appropriate guidelines shall be established to identify the proper formal environments to use for a specific railway problem, and to define an industrial process in which formal methods diversity can be exploited at its full benefits. The paper presents the different models developed, compares the tools employed in terms of language features and performance, and discusses the industrial implications of the concept of formal methods diversity in the railway domain.

Source: International journal on software tools for technology transfer (Print) 20 (2018): 263–288. doi:10.1007/s10009-018-0488-3

Publisher: Springer, Heidelberg ;, Germania


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BibTeX entry
	title = {Towards formal methods diversity in railways: an experience report with seven frameworks},
	author = {Mazzanti F. and Ferrari A. and Spagnolo G. O.},
	publisher = {Springer, Heidelberg ;, Germania},
	doi = {10.1007/s10009-018-0488-3},
	journal = {International journal on software tools for technology transfer (Print)},
	volume = {20},
	pages = {263–288},
	year = {2018}

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