Program Verification by Coinduction

Brandon Moore and Grigore Rosu
Technical Report February 2015
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Abstract. We present a program verification framework based on coinduction, which makes it feasible to verify programs directly against an operational semantics, without requiring intermediates like axiomatic semantics or verification condition generators. Specifications can be written and proved using any predicates on the state space of the operational semantics. We implement our approach in Coq, giving a certifying language-independent verification framework. The core proof system is implemented as a single module imported unchanged into proofs of programs in any semantics. A comfortable level of automation is provided by instantiating a simple heuristic with tactics for language-specific tasks such as finding the successor of a symbolic state, and for domain-specific reasoning about the predicates used in a particular specification. This approach also smoothly allows manual assistance at points the automation cannot handle. We demonstrate the power of our approach by verifying algorithms as complicated as Schorr-Waite graph marking, and the versatility by instantiating it for object languages in several styles of semantics. Despite the greater flexibility and generality of our approach, proof size and proof/certificate-checking time compare favorably with Bedrock, another Coq-based certifying program verification framework.