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Galois tech talk: Program Inconsistency Detection using Weakest Preconditions

Galois, Inc
421 SW 6th Ave. Suite 300
Portland, OR 97204, US (map)



Presented by Aaron Tomb.

Many tools exist to automate the search for defects in software source code. However, many of these tools have not been widely applied, partly because they tend to work least well in the most common case: on large software systems that have only partial specifications describing correct behavior --- often a collection of independent assertions sprinkled throughout the program.

Recent research has suggested that a large class of software bugs fall into the category of inconsistencies, or cases where two pieces of program code make incompatible assumptions. Existing approaches to inconsistency detection have used intentionally unsound techniques aimed at bug-finding rather than verification. In this dissertation, we describe an inconsistency detection analysis that subsumes previous work and is instead based on the foundation of the weakest precondition calculus.

We have applied our analysis to a large body of widely-used open-source software, and found a number of bugs.