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Proving the Correctness of Coroutines without History Variables

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journal contribution
posted on 01.01.1985, 00:00 by Edmund M Clarke
We examine the question of whether history variables are necessary in formal proofs of correctness for coroutines. History variables are special variables, which are added to a program to facilitate its proof by recording the sequence of states reached by the program during a computation; after the proof has been completed the history variables may be deleted. The use of such variables in correctness proofs was first suggested by Clint [CL73] in a paper entitled "Program Proving: Coroutines;" subsequently, history variables have been used by Owicki [OW76a] and Howard [HO75] in verifying concurrent programs and by Apt [APT77] in verifying sequential programs. We argue that recording the entire history of a computation in a single set of variables can actually complicate a correctness proof and should be avoided if possible. We propose a modification of Clint's axiom system and a strategy for constructing proofs that eliminates the need for history variables in verifying simple coroutines. Examples (including Clint's program "Histo") are given to illustrate this technique of verifying coroutines, and our axiom system is shown to be sound and relatively complete with respect to an operational semantics for coroutines. Finally, we discuss extensions of the coroutine concept for which history variables do appear to be needed; we also discuss the question of whether such variables are necessary in verifying concurrent programs.


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