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January 1982 (vol. 8 no. 1)
pp. 43-52
R.B. Dannenberg, Department of Computer Science, Carnegie-Mellon University
Symbolic execution provides a mechanism for formally proving programs correct. A notation is introduced which allows a concise presentation of rules of inference based on symbolic execution. Using this notation, rules of inference are developed to handle a number of language features, including loops and procedures with multiple exits. An attribute grammar is used to formally describe symbolic expression evaluation, and the treatment of function calls with side effects is shown to be straightforward. Because symbolic execution is related to program interpretation, it is an easy-to-comprehend, yet powerful technique. The rules of inference are useful in expressing the semantics of a language and form the basis of a mechanical verification condition generator.
Index Terms:
verification conditions, Control constructs, program proving, program verification, rules of inference, side effects, symbolic execution
Citation:
R.B. Dannenberg, G.W. Ernst, "Formal Program Verification Using Symbolic Execution," IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 43-52, Jan. 1982, doi:10.1109/TSE.1982.234773
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