The development of hard real-time systems using a formal approach

  • Jaspal S. Sagoo

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Hard real-time systems are a class of computer control systems that must react to demands of their environment by providing `correct' and timely responses. Since these systems are increasingly being used in systems with safety implications, it is crucial that they are designed and developed to operate in a correct manner. This thesis is concerned with developing formal techniques that allow the specification, verification and design of hard real-time systems.
Formal techniques for hard real-time systems must be capable of capturing the system's functional and performance requirements, and previous work has proposed a number of techniques which range from the mathematically intensive to those with some mathematical content. This thesis develops formal techniques that contain both an informal and a formal component because it is considered that the informality provides ease of understanding and the formality allows precise specification and verification. Specifically, the combination of Petri nets and temporal logic is considered for the specification and verification of hard real-time systems.
Approaches that combine Petri nets and temporal logic by allowing a consistent translation between each formalism are examined. Previously, such techniques have been applied to the formal analysis of concurrent systems. This thesis adapts these techniques for use in the modelling, design and formal analysis of hard real-time systems. The techniques are applied to the problem of specifying a controller for a high-speed manufacturing system. It is shown that they can be used to prove liveness and safety properties, including qualitative aspects of system performance. The problem of verifying quantitative real-time properties is addressed by developing a further technique which combines the formalisms of timed Petri nets and real-time temporal logic. A unifying feature of these techniques is the common temporal description of the Petri net.
A common problem with Petri net based techniques is the complexity problems associated with generating the reachability graph. This thesis addresses this problem by using concurrency sets to generate a partial reachability graph pertaining to a particular state. These sets also allows each state to be checked for the presence of inconsistencies and hazards.
The problem of designing a controller for the high-speed manufacturing system is also considered. The approach adopted mvolves the use of a model-based controller: This type of controller uses the Petri net models developed, thus preservIng the properties already proven of the controller. It. also contains a model of the physical system which is synchronised to the real application to provide timely responses. The various way of forming the synchronization between these processes is considered and the resulting nets are analysed using concurrency sets.
Date of AwardSept 1992
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorDavid J Holding (Supervisor)


  • hard real-time systems
  • safety-critical systems
  • formal methods
  • Petri nets
  • temporal logic
  • controller design

Cite this