Solving Quantified First Order Formulas in Satisfiability Modulo Theories
Candidate: Yeting Ge
Advisor: Clark Barrett


Design errors in computer systems, i.e. bugs, can cause inconvenience, loss of data and time, and in some cases catastrophic damages. One approach for improving design correctness is formal methods: techniques aiming at mathematically establishing that a piece of hardware or software satisfies certain properties. For some industrial cases in which formal methods are utilized, quantified first order formulas in satisfiability modulo theories (SMT) are useful. This dissertation presents several novel techniques for solving quantified formulas in SMT.

In general, deciding a quantified formula in SMT is undecidable. The practical approach for general quantifier reasoning in SMT is heuristics-based instantiation. This dissertation proposes a number of new heuristics that solves several challenges. Experimental results show that with the new heuristics a significant number of more benchmarks can be solved than before.

When only consider formulas within certain fragments of first order logic, it is possible to have complete algorithms based on instantiation. We propose several new fragments, and we prove that formulas in these fragments can be solved by a complete algorithm based on instantiation. For satisfiable quantified formulas in these fragments, we show how to construct the models.

As SMT solvers grow in complexity, the correctness of SMT solvers become questionable. A practical method to improve the correctness is to check the proofs from SMT solvers. We propose a proof translator that translates proofs from SMT solver CVC3 into a trusted solver HOL Light that actually checks the proofs. Experiments with the proof translator discover a faulty proof rule in CVC3 and two MIT-labeled quantified benchmarks in the SMT benchmark library SMT-LIB.