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Beating the bugs at Haifa's IBM Verification Conference 2005

IBM Haifa Labs News Center

November 21, 2005

Hundreds of verification engineers and IT professionals converged last week on the IBM Haifa Research Lab for the first-ever IBM Verification Conference. For three days, the 200 participants from 13 countries who registered for the conference attended a diverse mix of lectures and presentations on such topics as hardware verification, software testing technologies, and fault injection-based testing. A software testing tutorial was also offered as part of the conference.

IBM Verification Conference 2005 was a combination of three separate seminars previously sponsored by the IBM Haifa Labs on verification, software testing, and PADTAD. In addition to the high-level presentations during the day, the conference also offered a varied social program, including receptions and tours of Jerusalem and Haifa's Bahai Gardens.

Shmuel Ur, program chair and one of the conference organizers, said the combination of the three different workshops under one roof gave the conference a unique flavor-and provided the participants with some additional benefits.

"The applications in these separate fields are different," noted Ur, a researcher in the Verification & Testing Solutions Group in the IBM Haifa Labs, "but the techniques are very similar. No other conference in the world brings together software testing and hardware verification." By offering lectures in these disparate but related disciplines, noted Ur, the conference was able to engender an environment of collaboration and discovery.

For example, said Ur, formal verification (FV) methods and model checking techniques are well established in hardware verification, but they are only beginning to be used to assure the quality of software applications. In addition to the FV talks in the conference's hardware verification track, several speakers, including Scott Stoller, an associate professor of computer science at the State University of New York and co-chair of the 2005 Software Model Checking Workshop, discussed developing applications of FV for software testing. This type of cross-disciplinary approach made the conference fertile ground for exchanging ideas and out-of-the-box cooperation.

Stoller was just one of several standout speakers who presented their ideas at the conference, held at the IBM Haifa Labs and the Caesarea Rothschild Institute (CRI) on the University of Haifa campus in Israel this week. Other renowned verification experts at the conference included Sharad Malik of Princeton University, a world expert in the field of formal verification based on satisfiability algorithms; Thomas Wolf, program director of eServer firmware development in the IBM Systems and Technology Group in Germany; Tom Ball, a senior researcher in Microsoft's Testing, Verification and Measurement Group; Dan Quinlan, from the Center for Applied Scientific Computing at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; and Amir Pnueli from the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University and the Weizmann Institute of Science.

The event was the first full-fledged conference ever held at the IBM Research facility in Israel. The 14 papers accepted for presentation at the conference and some of the invited presentations will be printed in the conference proceedings by Springer-Verlag, and several papers will be selected for a special issue of the Journal of Science of Computer Programming (SCP) Methods of Software Design: Techniques and Applications.

Rahul Agarwal, Liqiang Wang, and Scott Stoller from the Computer Science Department of the State University of New York at Stony Brook won the best paper award for their article on deadlock detection.

According to Quinlan, the Haifa Labs was an ideal host for this type of cross-disciplinary event. "This conference brought together people that never really talked to one another," said Quinlan. "I can't think of a better place than IBM Haifa, where high levels of both hardware verification and software testing are taking place, for an event like this. The interaction here in the lab really bridges the gap between these two fields."


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