A Caltech Library Service

A method for the specification, composition, and testing of distributed object systems


Sivilotti, Paolo A. G. (1998) A method for the specification, composition, and testing of distributed object systems. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/z89g-gm27.


The formation of a distributed system from a collection of individual components requires the ability for components to exchange syntactically well-formed messages. Several technologies exist that provide this fundamental functionality, as well as the ability to locate components dynamically based on syntactic requirements. The formation of a correct distributed system requires, in addition, that these interactions between components be semantically well-formed. The method presented in this thesis is intended to assist in the development of correct distributed systems.

We present a specification methodology based on three fundamental operators from temporal logic: initially, next, and transient. From these operators we derive a collection of higher-level operators that are used for component specification. The novel aspect of our specification methodology is that we require that these operators be used in the following restricted manner:

•A specification statement can refer only to properties that are local to a single component. •A single component must be able to guarantee unilaterally the validity of the specification statement for any distributed system of which it is a part. Specification statements that conform to these two restrictions we call certificates.

The first restriction is motivated by our desire for these component specifications to be testable in a relatively efficient manner. In fact, we describe a set of simplified certificates that can be translated into a testing harness by a simple parser with very little programmer intervention. The second restriction is motivated by our desire for a simple theory of composition: If a certificate is a property of a component, that certificate is also a property of any system containing that component.

Another novel aspect of our methodology is the introduction of a new temporal operator that combines both safety and progress properties. The concept underlying this operator has been used implicitly before; but by extracting this concept into a first-class operator, we are able to prove several new theorems about such properties. We demonstrate the utility of this operator and of our theorems by using them to simplify several proofs.

The restrictions imposed on certificates are severe. Although they have pleasing consequences as described above, they can also lead to lengthy proofs of system properties that are not simple conjunctions. To compensate for this difficulty, we introduce collections of certificates that we call services. Services facilitate proof reuse by encapsulating common component interactions used to establish various system properties.

We experiment with our methodology by applying it to several extended examples. These experiments illustrate the utility of our approach and convince us of the practicality of component-based distributed system development. This thesis addresses three parts of the development cycle for distributed object systems: (i) the specification of systems and components, (ii) the compositional reasoning used to verify that a collection of components satisfy a system specification, and (iii) the validation of component implementations.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Computer Science
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Chandy, K. Mani
Thesis Committee:
  • Chandy, K. Mani (chair)
  • Martin, Alain J.
  • Arvo, James R.
  • Bagrodia, Rajive
  • Abu-Mostafa, Yaser S.
Defense Date:1 December 1997
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-01252008-095244
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:341
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:20 Feb 2008
Last Modified:16 Apr 2021 23:30

Thesis Files

PDF (Sivilotti_pag_1998.pdf) - Final Version
See Usage Policy.


Repository Staff Only: item control page