Explaining Counterexamples with Giant-Step Assertion Checking

Benedikt Becker
(Université Paris-Saclay, CNRS, Inria, LMF, 91405, Orsay, France)
Cláudio Belo Lourenço
(Université Paris-Saclay, CNRS, Inria, LMF, 91405, Orsay, France)
Claude Marché
(Université Paris-Saclay, CNRS, Inria, LMF, 91405, Orsay, France)

Identifying the cause of a proof failure during deductive verification of programs is hard: it may be due to an incorrectness in the program, an incompleteness in the program annotations, or an incompleteness of the prover. The changes needed to resolve a proof failure depend on its category, but the prover cannot provide any help on the categorisation. When using an SMT solver to discharge a proof obligation, that solver can propose a model from a failed attempt, from which a possible counterexample can be derived. But the counterexample may be invalid, in which case it may add more confusion than help. To check the validity of a counterexample and to categorise the proof failure, we propose the comparison between the run-time assertion-checking (RAC) executions under two different semantics, using the counterexample as an oracle. The first RAC execution follows the normal program semantics, and a violation of a program annotation indicates an incorrectness in the program. The second RAC execution follows a novel "giant-step" semantics that does not execute loops nor function calls but instead retrieves return values and values of modified variables from the oracle. A violation of the program annotations only observed under giant-step execution characterises an incompleteness of the program annotations. We implemented this approach in the Why3 platform for deductive program verification and evaluated it using examples from prior literature.

In José Proença and Andrei Paskevich: Proceedings of the 6th Workshop on Formal Integrated Development Environment (F-IDE 2021), Held online, 24-25th May 2021, Electronic Proceedings in Theoretical Computer Science 338, pp. 82–88.
Published: 6th August 2021.

ArXived at: http://dx.doi.org/10.4204/EPTCS.338.10 bibtex PDF
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