Context-Bounded Verification of Liveness Properties for Multithreaded Shared-Memory Programs
We study context-bounded verification of liveness properties of multi-threaded, shared-memory programs, where each thread can spawn additional threads. Our main result shows that context-bounded fair termination is decidable for the model; context-bounded implies that each spawned thread can be context switched a fixed constant number of times. Our proof is very technical, since fair termination requires reasoning about the composition of unboundedly many threads each with unboundedly large stacks. In fact, techniques for related problems, which depend crucially on replacing the pushdown threads with finite-state threads, are not applicable. Instead, we introduce an extension of vector addition systems with states (VASS), called VASS with balloons (VASSB), as an intermediate model; it is an infinite-state model of independent interest. A VASSB allows tokens that are themselves markings (balloons). We show context bounded fair termination reduces to fair termination for VASSB. We show the latter problem is decidable by showing a series of reductions: from fair termination to configuration reachability for VASSB and thence to the reachability problem for VASS. For a lower bound, fair termination is known to be non-elementary already in the special case where threads run to completion (no context switches).
We also show the simpler problem of context-bounded termination is 2EXPSPACE-complete, matching the complexity bound—and indeed the techniques—for safety verification. Additionally, we show the related problem of fair starvation, which checks if some thread can be starved along a fair run, is also decidable in the context-bounded case. The decidability shows an intricate reduction from fair starvation to fair termination. Like fair termination, this problem is also non-elementary.