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Improved competitiveness through integration and automation of complementary formal approaches in the development process


Customer standards for the development of safety critical software strongly advocate a formal approach. Viable formal methods require industrial strength tools supporting a wide spectrum of the software development lifecycle.

SPECTRUM draws together four users partners each charged with safety-critical software development in different application domains : GEC Marconi Avionics (GMAv) in avionics systems, Dassault Electronique (DE) in terrestrial transport embedded control, Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique (CEA) in nuclear plant control, and Space Software Italia (SSI) in satellite communication control. Each user perceives requirements beyond the formal software development support currently available to them and each has a need to integrate such support into their existing working environments.

The integration and increased automation of existing commercially available support technologies is seen as a pragmatic way of meeting these user needs. Hence SPECTRUM brings together IFAD (VDM-SL Toolbox) and B-Core (B-Toolkit) as its technology providers. Such integration requires basic but tractable research focused by user requirements and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) fills SPECTRUM's role of coordinator and strategic researcher.

The objective of the SPECTRUM project is to assess the feasibility and derived benefits from the integration and automation of commercial VDM and B formal technologies.

Contrary to past method proliferation, SPECTRUM seeks to integrate two complementary market offerings. This approach will be assessed through a number of user scenarios in a variety of application domains. SPECTRUM's technology results are expected to bring greater user satisfaction from an earlier use of analysis in development, reducing specification and design defects, and a greater availability of automation, such as an automated derivation of test-cases and test-harnesses from specifications. The acquired evidence of the application of formal methods across a spectrum of safety critical subdomains and across a spectrum of user backgrounds are anticipated to encourage a more mainstream adoption of formal methods.

The project is a feasibility study. It will demonstrate potential business benefits derived from greater competitiveness through decreased delivery and maintenance costs and improved quality. GMAv is already able to report benefits in applying rigour and formality to parts of its development life-cycle, whilst the other users wish to share that experience.

SPECTRUM's users expect to improve and extend their current use of formal methods, anticipating further reductions in the overall cost of their formal development and improved customer satisfaction through improved product quality.

SPECTRUM's suppliers believe that method and tool integration will foster greater market penetration than is currently achievable individually.

Call for proposal

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The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Acting Through Its Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
EU contribution
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Chilton Didcot
OX11 OQX Oxon
United Kingdom

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Total cost
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