AdaCore: SPARK Pro 16 helps reduce certification effort for safety-critical systems

AdaCore announced the latest release of its SPARK Pro integrated development and verification environment, bringing a sound and mathematics-based static analysis technology to the challenges of software verification for high-assurance systems. SPARK Pro 16 provides enhanced coverage of SPARK 2014 language features and now supports the Ravenscar tasking profile, thus extending the benefits of formal verification methods to a safe subset of Ada 2012 concurrent programming features. As another improvement SPARK Pro 16 can generate counterexamples to verification conditions that cannot be proved, thus making it easier for developers to find defects in the functional code or in the supplied contracts. SPARK Pro 16 also improves the handling of bitwise (modular) operations, and the product’s proof engine now includes the Z3 SMT solver.

The SPARK Pro technology, which has been jointly developed by AdaCore and its partner Altran, can prove SPARK program properties ranging from absence of run-time errors (exceptions) to compliance with a formally defined requirements specification. SPARK Pro thereby helps reduce the cost of software verification and simplifies the task of certifying the software against safety or security standards. The technology is sound; that is, there are no “false negatives”: if SPARK Pro reports that a program is free of a certain kind of error, then that error cannot occur. It also has a very low “false positive” rate, which is important in practice, and its efficient SMT solver technology scales up for usage in large projects. The SPARK language and toolset can be used from the outset on new projects or introduced incrementally into an existing project, allowing a “hybrid” verification approach that combines formal methods with traditional testing techniques.

SPARK Pro provides the foremost language, toolset, and design discipline for engineering high-assurance software. It combines the SPARK language and verification tools with AdaCore’s GNAT Programming Studio (GPS) and GNATbench Integrated Development Environments.

The SPARK Pro toolset offers static verification that is unrivalled in terms of its soundness, low false-alarm rate, depth and efficiency. The toolset generates evidence for correctness, including proofs of the absence of run-time errors, which can then be used to meet the requirements of safety and security certification schemes, such as DO-178B and DO-178C (airborne systems), EN 50128 (railway systems), and the Common Criteria. SPARK Pro is especially applicable in the context of the Formal Methods supplement to DO-178C.

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