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Towards an Automatic Proof of Lamport's Paxos

EasyChair Preprint no. 6510

13 pagesDate: August 31, 2021


Lamport's celebrated Paxos consensus protocol is generally viewed as a complex hard-to-understand algorithm. Notwithstanding its complexity, in this paper, we take a step towards automatically proving the safety of Paxos by taking advantage of three structural features in its specification: spatial regularity in its unordered domains, temporal regularity in its totally-ordered domain, and its hierarchical composition. By carefully integrating these structural features in IC3PO, a novel model checking algorithm, we were able to infer an inductive invariant that identically matches the human-written one previously derived with significant manual effort using interactive theorem proving. While various attempts have been made to verify different versions of Paxos, to the best of our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of an automatically-inferred inductive invariant for Lamport's original Paxos specification. We note that these structural features are not specific to Paxos and that IC3PO can serve as an automatic general-purpose protocol verification tool.

Keyphrases: distributed protocols, IC3, incremental induction, inductive invariant, parameterized systems, Paxos, PDR, TLA+

BibTeX entry
BibTeX does not have the right entry for preprints. This is a hack for producing the correct reference:
  author = {Aman Goel and Karem A. Sakallah},
  title = {Towards an Automatic Proof of Lamport's Paxos},
  howpublished = {EasyChair Preprint no. 6510},

  year = {EasyChair, 2021}}
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