Ph.D. Thesis, Imperial College London

Publication Year



  • Mark James Wheelhouse


O’Hearn, Reynolds and Yang introduced local Hoare reasoning about mutable data structures using separation logic. They reason about the local parts of the memory accessed by programs, and thus construct their smallest complete specifications. Gardner et al. generalised their work, using context logic to reason about structured data at the same level of abstraction as the data itself. In particular, we developed a formal specification of the Document Object Model (DOM), a W3C XML update library. Whilst we kept to the spirit of local reasoning, we were not able to retain small specifications for all of the commands of DOM: for example, our specification of the appendChild command was not small. We show how to obtain such small specifications by developing a more fine-grained context structure, allowing us to work with arbitrary segments of a data structure. We introduce segment logic, a logic for reasoning about such segmented data structures, staring at first with a simple tree structure, but then showing how to generalise our approach to arbitrary structured data. Using our generalised segment logic we construct a reasoning framework for abstract program modules, showing how to reason about such modules at the client level. In particular we look at modules for trees, lists, heaps and the more complex data model of DOM. An important part of any abstraction technique is an understanding of how to link the abstraction back to concrete implementations. Building on our previous abstraction and refinement work for local reasoning, we show how to soundly implement the segment models used in our abstract reasoning. In particular we show how to implement our fine-grained list and tree modules so that their abstract specifications are satisfied by the concrete implementations. We also show how our reasoning from the abstract level can be translated to reasoning at the concrete level. Finally, we turn our attention to concurrency and show how having genuine small axioms for our commands allows for a simple treatment of abstract level concurrency constructs.

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