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Dagstuhl Seminar 23112

Unifying Formal Methods for Trustworthy Distributed Systems

( Mar 12 – Mar 15, 2023 )

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Distributed systems are challenging to develop and reason about. Unsurprisingly, there have been many efforts in formally specifying, modeling, and verifying distributed systems. A bird's eye view of this vast body of work reveals two primary sensibilities. The first is that of semi-automated or interactive deductive verification targeting structured programs and implementations, and focusing on simplifying the user's task of providing inductive invariants. The second is that of fully-automated model checking, targeting more abstract models of distributed systems, and focusing on extending the boundaries of decidability for the parameterized model checking problem. Regrettably, solution frameworks and results in deductive verification and parameterized model checking have largely evolved in isolation while targeting the same overall goal.

This Dagstuhl Seminar seeks to enable conversations and solutions cutting across the deductive verification and model checking communities, leveraging the complementary strengths of these approaches. In particular, the seminar will explore layered and compositional approaches for modeling and verification of industrial-scale distributed systems that lend themselves well to separation of verification tasks, and thereby the use of diverse proof methodologies.

We also recognize that formal methods education is an integral component of disseminating our research ideas for industrial-scale verification projects. Hence, another important objective of this seminar is to draw up a plan to train and teach relevant formal methods to students as well as industry partners.

We plan to make a publicly available website with the following information:

  • A list of target verification problems developed collaboratively with our participants from industry (outlined before and finalized during the seminar)
  • A summary of brainstorming sessions on unifying existing formal methods-based approaches for addressing the target problems
  • Slides of all presentations
  • A list of educational resources

We also expect to finalize initial plans for concrete collaborations across groups of participants. Finally, we hope to concretize plans for an annual summer school for training students and industry partners in the topics of this Dagstuhl Seminar.

Copyright Swen Jacobs, Kenneth McMillan, Roopsha Samanta, and Ilya Sergey


  • Formal Languages and Automata Theory
  • Logic in Computer Science
  • Programming Languages

  • Industrial-Scale Distributed Systems
  • Formal Verification
  • Parameterized Model Checking
  • Deductive Verification
  • Compositional Reasoning