Research paper co-authored by City, Universit

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Credit: Martin Nyx Brain, City University of London

A research paper co-authored by City, University of London Software Reliability Scholar Dr. Martin Nyx Brain, Department of Computing, won the award for Best Tool Paper at the recent Joint European Conference on Software Theory and Practice (ETAPS).

The article, cvc5: A Versatile and Industrial-Strength SMT Solver, introduces cvc5, a software verification tool and method to mathematically prove that software does not crash and is bug-free before testing. It emerges from the work he and his international team of colleagues have conducted to develop the next generation of tools for solving a series of ‘logic puzzles’ or equations.

Computer science lecturer Dr. Brain explains:

If we want to build a cleaner, greener, safer and better world, one of the best tools we have is computer control of physical systems and software. Advanced collision management systems in cars that protect passengers and pedestrians in the event of an accident, high-efficiency aircraft engines, automated ground and air traffic control, precision control of wind turbines for efficiency and even artificial organs and medical prostheses – all of these cases rely on software to operate and deliver the benefits the world needs.

However, the risk comes into play if the software is faulty or insecure – which can put people’s lives at risk and cause serious damage to the environment.

The City’s Center for Software Reliability has, over the years, developed and worked with industry to use a variety of different tools, methods, and techniques to make critical infrastructure software safer, more secure, and more robust. .

“One of these layers of defense is software verification; tools and methods to mathematically prove that software will not crash and is bug-free before being tested. The software is reduced to a series of “logical puzzles” or equations. If there are solutions to the equations, the software may crash or be hacked. If there are no solutions, the system is safe. This is a powerful technique, but it requires a fast way to solve the millions or billions of equations generated by typical industrial control software,” adds Dr. Brain.


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