For the first time this year, we're issuing release notes for SPARK Pro in HTML, with code snippets and links to relevant external information.
Well-known SPARK expert and advocate Rod Chapman presented at the latest Ada Europe conference a paper on "Sanitizing Sensitive Data: How to get it Right (or at least Less Wrong...)". Rod's work in the latest years has switched to more security-focused topics it seems, and this work is attacking a subtle problem with new ideas. Definitely worth reading.
SPARK Discovery GPL 2017 is out! With more automation of proofs, new modes of user interaction, support for type invariants. Note that the optional provers CVC4 and Z3 are no longer distributed with SPARK Discovery GPL 2017, and should be installed separately.
Two years ago, we redeveloped the code of a small quadcopter called Crazyflie in SPARK, as a proof-of-concept to show it was possible to prove absence of run-time errors (no buffer overflows, not division by zero, etc.) on such code. The researchers Martin Becker and Emanuel Regnath have raised the bar by developing the code for the autopilot of a small glider in SPARK in three months only. Their paper and slides are available, and they have released their code as FLOSS for others to use/modify/enhance!
It is notoriously hard to prove properties of floating-point computations, including the simpler bounding properties that state safe bounds on the values taken by entities in the program. Thanks to the recent changes in SPARK 17, users can now benefit from much better provability for these programs, by combining the capabilities of different provers. For the harder cases, this requires using ghost code to state intermediate assertions proved by one of the provers, to be used by others. This work is described in an article which was accepted at VSTTE 2017 conference.
The Frama-C & SPARK Day this week was a very successful event gathering the people interested in formal program verification for C programs (with Frama-C) and for Ada programs (with SPARK). Here is a summary of what was interesting for SPARK users. We also point to the slides of the presentations.
While SPARK has been used for years in companies like Altran UK, companies without the same know-how may find it intimidating to get started on formal program verification. To help with that process, AdaCore has collaborated with Thales throughout the year 2016 to produce a 70-pages detailed guidance document for the adoption of SPARK. These guidelines are based on five levels of assurance that can be achieved on software, in increasing order of costs and benefits: Stone level (valid SPARK), Bronze level (initialization and correct data flow), Silver level (absence of run-time errors), Gold level (proof of key properties) and Platinum level (full functional correctness). These levels, and their mapping to the Development Assurance Levels (DAL) and Safety Integrity Levels (SIL) used in certification standards, were presented at the recent High Confidence Software and Systems conference.
The annual competition "Make with Ada" is starting now. Participants have until Septembre 15th to create an embedded application in Ada or SPARK, using the tools and support we'll put in place for this event. The prizes range from 5000 euros (5500 dollars) to 1000 euros (1100 dollars).
This year again, the VerifyThis competition took place as part of ETAPS conferences. This is the occasion for builders and users of formal program verification platforms to use their favorite tools on common challenges. The first challenge this year was a good fit for SPARK, as it revolves around proving properties of an imperative sorting procedure. In this post, I am using this challenge to show how one can reach different levels of software assurance with SPARK.
This year, SPARK crowd joins the Frama-C crowd, thus the Frama-C Day around static analysis and formal verification of C programs becomes the Frama-C & SPARK Day. This event takes place in Paris on May 30th, and the program is now available online.