One approach to model checking software is based on the abstract-check-refine paradigm: build an abstract model, then check the desired property, and if the check fails, refine the model and start over. We introduce the concept of lazy abstraction to integrate and optimize the three phases of the abstract-check-refine loop. Lazy abstraction continuously builds and refines a single abstract model on demand, driven by the model checker, so that different parts of the model may exhibit different degrees of precision, namely just enough to verify the desired property. We present an algorithm for model checking safety properties using lazy abstraction and describe an implementation of the algorithm applied to C programs. We also provide sufficient conditions for the termination of the method.
Proceedings of the 29th Annual Symposium on Principles of Programming Languages (POPL), ACM Press, 2002, pp. 58-70.