We present a refinement type-based approach for the static verification of complex data structure invariants. Our approach is based on the observation that complex data structures are typically fashioned from two elements: recursion (e.g., lists and trees), and maps (e.g., arrays and hash tables). We introduce two novel type-based mechanisms targeted towards these elements: recursive refinements and polymorphic refinements. These mechanisms automate the challenging work of generalizing and instantiating rich universal invariants by piggybacking simple refinement predicates on top of types, and carefully dividing the labor of analysis between the type system and an SMT solver. Further, the mechanisms permit the use of the abstract interpretation framework of liquid type inference to automatically synthesize complex invariants from simple logical qualifiers, thereby almost completely automating the verification. We have implemented our approach in Dsolve, which uses liquid types to verify Ocaml programs. We present experiments that show that our type-based approach reduces the manual annotation required to verify complex properties like sortedness, balancedness, binary-search-ordering, and acyclicity by more than an order of magnitude.
In the Proceedings of the 31st ACM Conference on Programming Language Design and Implementation, 2009. (PLDI 2009).
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