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Formal Methods for Java (Lecture)

Recently, formal methods have been successfully used to specify and verify large software system. A current example is the Verisoft project, whose goal is to create a fully verified processor, operating system and compiler. In this lecture we will investigate the existing methods for the language Java. The language Java was chosen because it is a mature language, with a semi-formal definition of its semantics (The Java Language Specification). However, to use mathematical reasoning, we need a precise definition of the semantics. Therefore, we will sketch the definition of an operational semantics for Java. Furthermore, we will investigate different formal methods for Java. The starting point will be the language extension JML that allows Design by Contract. This allows to add pre- and postconditions to methods and invariants to classes and loops. These assertions can be checked during runtime and this is the purpose of the JML runtime assertion checker (jmlrac). On the other hand, there are static methods, e.g., ESC/Java and Jahob, that automatically provide mathematical proofs that the Java code ensures the post-condition for each possible pre-condition. If these proofs cannot be found automatically, one can also use theorem provers that assist in finding a proof manually. In this lecture, we will present the different approaches for verification of Java code. In the exercise you will investigate different tools on small practical examples.
Course type Lecture
Instructors Jochen Hoenicke
Lecture Tuesday, 16:00–18:00 c.t., in building 106 room 00 007 (MMR)
Friday, 10:00-11:00 c.t., in building 106 room 00 007 (MMR)
Exercise Friday, 11:00–12:00, in building 106 room 00 007 (MMR)
First session Lecture 23.10.12
Language of instruction English
Credits 6
Exams Oral, 06.03.2013, building 052, room 00-017
Course Catalog Formale Methoden für Java



  • A new version of the file with full annotations has been uploaded.  This includes a workaround for a bug in the JMLTools.
  • On Friday, 11.01.2013, we will have two hours of tutorial to discuss the Christmas sheet.  This tutorial will be held by Jochen Hoenicke.  Please send your solutions to the Christmas sheet to him (see delivery note on the sheet).
  • The faculty switched from pen-and-paper evaluations to a new online evaluation system.  Please use this system in the period from January 28 until February 8 to give us some feedback on the lecture.  You need the RAS login to access the system.  The pages are available in German and English.  Note that even though you have to log into the system your answers to the questions will be completely anonymous.


Admission criteria

You have to do all exercises.

Exercise Submission Scheme

Every Tuesday before the lecture.


There will be oral exams.  The dates of the exams will be published later.

Please register via examination office as usual.


Literature & Web resources

Slides and Additional Material