Interactive program verification using virtual programs
This thesis is concerned with ways of proving the correctness of computer programs. The first part of the thesis presents a new method for doing this. The method, called continuation induction, is based on the ideas of symbolic execution, the description of a given program by a virtual program, and the demonstration that these two programs are equivalent whenever the given program terminates. The main advantage of continuation induction over other methods is that it enables programs using a wide variety of programming constructs such as recursion, iteration, non-determinism, procedures with side-effects and jumps out of blocks to be handled in a natural and uniform way. In the second part of the thesis a program verifier which uses both this method and Floyd's inductive assertion method is described. The significance of this verifier is that it is designed to be extensible, and to this end the user can declare new functions and predicates to be used in giving a natural description of the program's intention. Rules describing these new functions can then be used when verifying the program. To actually prove the verification conditions, the system employs automatic simplification, a relatively clever matcher, a simple natural deduction system and, most importantly, the user's advice. A large number of commands are provided for the user in guiding the system to a proof of the program's correctness. The system has been used to verify various programs including two sorting programs and a program to invert a permutation 'in place' the proofs of the sorting programs included a proof of the fact that the final array was a permutation of the original one. Finally, some observations and suggestions are made concerning the continued development of such interactive verification systems.