Journal article  Open Access

Systematic evaluation and usability analysis of formal methods tools for railway signaling system design

Ferrari A., Mazzanti F., Basile D., Ter Beek M. H.

Formal Methods  Software Engineering  Systematic Evaluation  Usability Analysis  Language Classifications  Tools  Methodologies  Design  Railways 

Formal methods and supporting tools have a long record of success in the development of safety-critical systems. However, no single tool has emerged as the dominant solution for system design. Each tool differs from the others in terms of the modeling language used, its verification capabilities and other complementary features, and each development context has peculiar needs that require different tools. This is particularly problematic for the railway industry, in which formal methods are highly recommended by the norms, but no actual guidance is provided for the selection of tools. To guide companies in the selection of the most appropriate formal methods tools to adopt in their contexts, a clear assessment of the features of the currently available tools is required. To address this goal, this paper considers a set of 13 formal methods tools that have been used for the early design of railway systems, and it presents a systematic evaluation of such tools and a preliminary usability analysis of a subset of 7 tools, involving railway practitioners. The results are discussed considering the most desired aspects by industry and earlier related studies. While the focus is on the railway signaling domain, the overall methodology can be applied to similar contexts. Our study thus contributes with a systematic evaluation of formal methods tools and it shows that despite the poor graphical interfaces, usability and maturity of the tools are not major problems, as claimed by contributions from the literature. Instead, support for process integration is the most relevant obstacle for the adoption of most of the tools. Our contribution can be useful to R&D engineers from railway signaling companies and infrastructure managers, but also to tool developers and academic researchers alike.

Source: IEEE transactions on software engineering 48 (2021): 4675–4691. doi:10.1109/TSE.2021.3124677

Publisher: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers], [New York,, Stati Uniti d'America


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BibTeX entry
	title = {Systematic evaluation and usability analysis of formal methods tools for railway signaling system design},
	author = {Ferrari A. and Mazzanti F. and Basile D. and Ter Beek M. H.},
	publisher = {Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers], [New York,, Stati Uniti d'America},
	doi = {10.1109/tse.2021.3124677},
	journal = {IEEE transactions on software engineering},
	volume = {48},
	pages = {4675–4691},
	year = {2021}


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