Fast Directed Model Checking Via Russian Doll Abstraction
Directed model checking aims at speeding up the search for bugs in a system through the use of heuristic functions. Such a function maps states to integers, estimating the state’s distance to the nearest error state. The search gives a preference to states with lower estimates. The key issue is how to generate good heuristic functions, i.e., functions that guide the search quickly to an error state. An arsenal of heuristic functions has been developed in recent years. Significant progress was made, but many problems still prove to be notoriously hard. In particular, a body of work describes heuristic functions for model checking timed automata in Uppaal, and tested them on a certain set of benchmarks. Into this arsenal we add another heuristic function. With previous heuristics, for the largest of the benchmarks it was only just possible to find some (unnecessarily long) error path. With the new heuristic, we can find provably shortest error paths for these benchmarks in a matter of seconds. The heuristic function is based on a kind of Russian Doll principle, where the heuristic for a given problem arises through using Uppaal itself for the complete exploration of a simplified instance of the same problem. The simplification consists in removing those parts from the problem that are distant from the error property. As our empirical results confirm, this simplification often preserves the characteristic structure leading to the error.
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