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University of Southampton hosts international conference for safety critical systems software

Published: 8 June 2018
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Advances in the design and analysis of safety critical systems were discussed at Southampton’s Grand Harbour Hotel

Computer scientists promoted advances in the design and analysis of safety critical systems at the 6th international ABZ conference in Southampton.

Dozens of experts from academia and industry have gathered at Southampton’s Grand Harbour Hotel to cross-fertilise methods for systems such as cars, trains and planes, where software failures would lead to loss of life or significant damage to businesses.

The event, which was hosted by researchers in Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) at the University of Southampton, covered six related state-based and machine-based formal methods of software engineering.

The conference continued a tradition of defining an industrial case study that researchers could apply to their methods in order to compare the international approaches. The 2018 case study detailed a new European rail signalling system that aims to increase the volume of trains operating on lines while continuing to mitigate dangers such as collisions.

A joint keynote was delivered by Altran senior software engineers Janet Barnes and Angela Wallenburg, offering insights into the successes and challenges of deploying formal methods into industry.

Professor Michael Butler, Programme Committee Chair from ECS at Southampton, says: “Our society’s increased reliance on software for control in systems such as transport means that methods for ensuring trustworthiness of software is essential. ECS is at the forefront of research and applications in this field and we are proud to have welcomed experts from across the globe to this international conference. The quality of papers and presentations has been very high and it’s been great to see the strong level of engagement between attendees.”

Michael’s research at Southampton encompasses applications, tools and methodology for formal methods, in particular one model-based method called Event-B. His key theoretical and methodological contributions have enabled the method to scale to large complex systems.

The six formal methods discussed at the conference included Abstract State Machines (ASM), the B-Method and the Z notation – which form ABZ – along with Alloy, Temporal Logic of Actions (TLA) and the Vienna Development Method (VDM).

The ABZ conference ran from Tuesday 5th to Friday 8th of June.

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