Trustworthy Systems

Formalising a high-performance microkernel


Kevin Elphinstone, Gerwin Klein and Rafal Kolanski

NICTA, Sydney, Australia
UNSW, Australia


This paper argues that a pragmatic approach is needed for integrating design and formalisation of complex systems. We report on our approach to designing the seL4 operating system microkernel API and its formalisation in Isabelle/HOL. The formalisation consists of the systematic translation of significant parts of the functional programming language Haskell into Isabelle/HOL, including monad-based code. We give an account of the experience, decisions and outcomes in this translation as well as the technical problems we encountered together with our solutions. The longer-term goal is to demonstrate that formalisation and verification of a large, complex, OS-level code base is feasible with current tools and methods and is in the order of magnitude of traditional development cost.

BibTeX Entry

    address          = {Seattle, USA},
    author           = {Kevin Elphinstone and Gerwin Klein and Rafal Kolanski},
    booktitle        = {Verified Software: Theories, Tools and Experiments},
    editor           = {Rustan Leino},
    month            = aug,
    pages            = {1-7},
    paperurl         = {},
    series           = {Microsoft Research Technical Report MSR-TR-2006-117},
    title            = {Formalising a High-Performance Microkernel},
    year             = {2006}