Formal Verification

Building A "Simple" Distributed System - Formal Verification

Building A "Simple" Distributed System - Formal Verification

In the last post, we described a protocol that should satisfy the requirements and invariants established in the first post. Today we will look at formal verification with TLA+.

Formal verification is just another (niche) tool in the toolbox. Some tools require more skill than others to use. Some tools are more expensive than others. It is up to the practioner to decide if/when/how to use them.

The hard part is that you won't necessarily know if it is beneficial to a given problem you face, if you aren't already skilled in it. If a tool is very difficult to learn, then you might never invest in it enough to be able to make that call. Or you might invest a lot of time into it, to find it isn't a great match for your problem. At which point it gets stowed in your toolbox where it may or may not get used again. I expect many software engineers see learning formal methods as a difficult (it is) and high risk venture.

So, given the above, my aim of this post is for software engineers without prior experience of TLA+ to be able to get the gist of the spec and see why it was useful for this project. Please give me feedback if I succeeded or not.