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Methods for Proving Non-termination of Programs

Nimkar, KN; (2015) Methods for Proving Non-termination of Programs. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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The search for reliable and scalable automated methods for finding counterexamples to termination or alternatively proving non-termination is still widely open. The thesis studies the problem of proving non-termination of programs and presents new methods for the same. It also provides a thorough comparison of new methods along with the previous methods. In the first method, we show how the problem of non-termination proving can be reduced to a question of underapproximation search guided by a safety prover. This reduction leads to new non-termination proving implementation strategies based on existing tools for safety proving. Furthermore, our approach leads to easy support for programs with unbounded non-determinism. In the second method, we show how Max-SMT-based invariant generation can be exploited for proving non-termination of programs. The construction of the proof of non-termination is guided by the generation of quasi-invariants - properties such that if they hold at a location during execution once, then they will continue to hold at that location from then onwards. The check that quasi-invariants can indeed be reached is then performed separately. Our technique produces more generic witnesses of non-termination than existing methods. Moreover, it can handle programs with unbounded non-determinism and is more likely to converge than previous approaches. When proving non-termination using known techniques, abstractions that overapproximate the program's transition relation are unsound. In the third method, we introduce live abstractions, a natural class of abstractions that can be combined with the concept of closed recurrence sets to soundly prove non-termination. To demonstrate the practical usefulness of this new approach we show how programs with non-linear, non-deterministic, and heap-based commands can be shown non-terminating using linear overapproximations. All three methods introduced in this thesis have been implemented in different tools. We also provide experimental results which show great performance improvements over existing methods.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Methods for Proving Non-termination of Programs
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Computer Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1469424
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