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Haifa Verification Conference - a synergy of domains, methods, and cultures

The Haifa Verification Conference 2007 encouraged the migration of methods and ideas between the domains of hardware and software verification

February 07, 2008 - The Haifa Verification Conference, popularly known as HVC, is a leading international forum that annually brings together professionals from the different verification disciplines. This academic conference, already in its third year, is rapidly making a name for itself among major academic venues.

Academic research in the verification of systems is generally divided into two paradigms - formal verification and dynamic verification (testing). Within each paradigm, different algorithms and techniques are used for hardware and for software systems. Yet, at their core, all of these techniques aim to achieve the same goal-ensuring the correct functionality of a complicated system. HVC is the only conference that brings together researchers from all four fields, thereby encouraging the migration of methods and ideas between domains. This year's conference expressed a special interest in hybrid methods that exemplify the successful integration of ideas from different domains of expertise.

"HVC2007 reflects our position as leaders in the verification community," noted Karen Yorav, the conference chair and a researcher at the IBM Haifa Lab. "We have a strong core of verification experts with an international reputation and a strong name in Israel - which is considered a world center of competence for verification." Just as one example, the PSL IEEE standard originally started out as the Sugar language in IBM Haifa. Sugar was selected as the basis for the standard from among four languages-all developed in Israel.

Close to 300 people attended the three-day conference, which took place in Haifa, Israel. Many of the guests came from abroad and over half the paper submissions were sent from outside Israel. Aside from the Best Paper Award given to the most outstanding paper accepted to HVC 2007, this year's conference introduced the 'HVC Award' for the best paper to hold the promise of impacting the future of the verification domain. An independent committee chaired by Professor Roderick Bloem accepted nominations for the prize and selected the winners Corina Pasareanu and Willem Visser for their work on combining static and dynamic analysis.

"This year was a breakthrough point with the conference being recognized as an important venue for publications in the field, building on the success of last year," noted Yorav. The technical papers are being published in Springer's Lecture Notes in Computer Science series (LNCS). In addition, there is going to be a special section in the journal STTT with extended versions of selected papers from the conference.

"The goal of this year's conference was to build on the synergy from the collective joining of the different disciplines," explained Yorav, who believes everyone profits from sharing ideas. "For example, coverage exists for both hardware and software, but there is little sharing of ideas. The winners of this year's HVC Award brought together static and dynamic testing to bring out the best in both worlds."

The conference had a rich program of paper presentations, keynote speakers, invited talks, and a tutorial. Keynote speakers Bob Bentley from Intel and Aarti Gupta from NEC Labs in America were well received by the conference-goers. Just a few of the titles of the very popular invited talks included: "Out of Steam? - From 'Hardware Verification Crisis' to 'Crisis of Verification'" by Wolfgang Roesner, "Simulation vs. Formal: Absorb What is Useful; Reject What is Useless: The Bruce Lee Approach to Verification" by Alan Hu, "Scaling Commercial Verification to Larger Systems" by Robert Kurshan, and "Where Do Bugs Come From?" by Andreas Zeller.

A structured speed networking session was incorporated within the conference schedule to facilitate networking and help it progress beyond the usual chit chat during the coffee breaks. Conference participants also took advantage of an excursion to the ancient city of Acre where they had a chance to get acquainted with some history and with each other.

This year's HCV conference was sponsored by the Caesarea Rothschild Institute (CRI) and Cadence, who provided travel stipends to students attending the conference and funded the travel costs for the HVC Award winners.

"It was incredibly inspiring," exclaimed one of the participants. "I'm really looking forward to next year's conference." So are IBM Haifa researchers, who already have plans underway for next year's exciting HVC'08.

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