seL4: Formal verification of an operating system kernel

Authors

Gerwin Klein, June Andronick, Kevin Elphinstone, Gernot Heiser, David Cock, Philip Derrin, Dhammika Elkaduwe, Kai Engelhardt, Rafal Kolanski, Michael Norrish, Thomas Sewell, Harvey Tuch and Simon Winwood

NICTA, Sydney, Australia
UNSW, Australia


    Open Kernel Labs, Sydney, Australia

Abstract

We report on the formal, machine-checked verification of the seL4 microkernel from an abstract specification down to its C implementation. We assume correctness of compiler, assembly code, hardware, and boot code.

seL4 is a third-generation microkernel of L4 provenance, comprising 8,700 lines of C and 600 lines of assembler. Its performance is comparable to other high-performance L4 kernels.

We prove that the implementation always strictly follows our high-level abstract specification of kernel behaviour. This encompasses traditional design and implementation safety properties such as that the kernel will never crash, and it will never perform an unsafe operation. It also implies much more: we can predict precisely how the kernel will behave in every possible situation.

BibTeX Entry

  @article{Klein_EHACDEEKNSTW_10,
    publisher        = {ACM},
    author           = {Gerwin Klein and June Andronick and Kevin Elphinstone and Gernot Heiser and David Cock and Philip
                        Derrin and Dhammika Elkaduwe and Kai Engelhardt and Rafal Kolanski and Michael Norrish and Thomas
                        Sewell and Harvey Tuch and Simon Winwood},
    journal          = {Communications of the ACM},
    year             = {2010},
    number           = {6},
    month            = {June},
    volume           = {53},
    title            = {{seL4}: Formal Verification of an Operating System Kernel},
    pages            = {107--115}
  }

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