How can you trust formally verified software?

Alastair Reid

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Formal verification of software has finally started to become viable: we have examples of formally verified microkernels, realistic compilers, hypervisors etc. These are huge achievements and we can expect to see even more impressive results in the future but the correctness proofs depend on a number of assumptions about the Trusted Computing Base that the software depends on. Two key questions to ask are: Are the specifications of the Trusted Computing Base correct? And do the implementations match the specifications? I will explore the philosophical challenges and practical steps you can take in answering that question for one of the major dependencies: the hardware your software runs on. I will describe the combination of formal verification and testing that ARM uses to verify the processor specification and I will talk about our current challenge: getting the specification down to zero bugs while the architecture continues to evolve.

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