Software Systems

Running the manual: An approach to high-assurance microkernel development


Philip Derrin, Kevin Elphinstone, Gerwin Klein, David Cock and Manuel M. T. Chakravarty


We propose a development methodology for designing and prototyping high assurance microkernels, and describe our application of it. The methodology is based on rapid prototyping and iterative refinement of the microkernel in a functional programming language. The prototype provides a precise semi-formal model, which is also combined with a machine simulator to form a reference implementation capable of executing real user-level software, to obtain accurate feedback on the suitability of the kernel API during development phases. We extract from the prototype a machine-checkable formal specification in higher-order logic, which may be used to verify properties of the design, and also results in corrections to the design without the need for full verification. We found the approach leads to productive, highly iterative development where formal modelling, semi-formal design and prototyping, and end use all contribute to a more mature final design in a shorter period of time.

BibTeX Entry

    author           = {Philip Derrin and Kevin Elphinstone and Gerwin Klein and David Cock and Manuel M. T. Chakravarty},
    title            = {Running the Manual: An Approach to High-Assurance Microkernel Development},
    month            = {sep},
    year             = {2006},
    booktitle        = {Proceedings of the  ACM SIGPLAN Haskell Workshop},
    address          = {Portland, OR, USA}