Verifying Multi-threaded Software using SMT-based Context-Bounded Model Checking

Lucas Cordeiro and Bernd Fischer
University of Southampton, United Kingdom

We describe and evaluate three approaches to model check multi-threaded software with shared variables and locks using bounded model checking based on Satisfiability Modulo Theories (SMT) and our modelling of the synchronization primitives of the Pthread library. In the lazy approach, we generate all possible interleavings and call the SMT solver on each of them individually, until we either find a bug, or have systematically explored all interleavings. In the schedule recording approach, we encode all possible interleavings into one single formula and then exploit the high speed of the SMT solvers. In the underapproximation and widening approach, we reduce the state space by abstracting the number of interleavings from the proofs of unsatisfiability generated by the SMT solvers. In all three approaches, we bound the number of context switches allowed among threads in order to reduce the number of interleavings explored. We implemented these approaches in ESBMC, our SMT-based bounded model checker for ANSI-C programs. Our experiments show that ESBMC can analyze larger problems and substantially reduce the verification time compared to stateof-the-art techniques that use iterative context-bounding algorithms or counter-example guided abstraction refinement.