Runtime Verification, Inc. (RV) along with the Formal Systems Lab at the University of Illinois (FSL) are announcing a joint initiative targeting the full formalization of the Viper smart contract programming language, using the K Framework to create a full formal definition of this research-oriented smart contract programming language. We believe this effort will yield a number of useful tools and artifacts, and can lay the foundation for the future of principled and formally rigorous smart contract development.
RV-Match now supports execution of applications containing x86_64 inline assembly. If you have a program that contains inline assembly, you can compile it with kcc like any other C program and we will compile the functions containing inline assembly with gcc and execute them directly the same way we handle any other native code which we do not have C source for. As a result of this, the ability to detect undefined behavior in that function is eliminated, but it allows you to analyze complex applications which contain some code in inline assembly which you do not want to translate into C source.
The K Framework provides extensive support for writing and validating formal semantics of programming languages, and using these semantics to execute, analyze, and even verify programs. We are part of a new joint effort to advance the implementation of the K framework - and we are now hiring for this project. The organizations involved are
- Formal Systems Laboratory (FSL) at UIUC
- Runtime Verification (RV)
- Input Output Hong Kong (IOHK)
- Advanced Digital Sciences Center (ADSC), a UIUC research center in Singapore
Positions for professional developers are available at RV, IOHK, and ADSC. The K website has full details on the projects and the available positions.
The Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) has been recently given a complete formal semantics using the K framework, as part of the open source KEVM project. The effort is described in detail in the KEVM technical report. The aim of the KEVM project is to develop a suite of formal analysis tools for smart contracts based on the formal semantics of the EVM. In other words, the only trust base for these tools will be the public EVM semantics, which is the best we can hope for. The KEVM team currently consists of researchers and developers at Runtime Verification and in the Formal Systems Laboratory at the University of Illinois, and the project is being partially funded by IOHK.
While defining the formal semantics of EVM in K, there were moments when we asked ourselves "Why did they do it this way?" Also, while verifying smart contracts using the semantics, we found some of the design choices made by the EVM designers questionable; if nothing else, they make verification harder. We have decided to then collect our thoughts during the semantic definition process and during verification of smart contracts after. They were bundled together with the KEVM definition, under issues.md. Here we restate them so you can find them all in one place in order to express your thoughts. Maybe it is not too late to re-design the EVM, this time with formal semantics and mathematical rigor in mind. If the blockchain technology is here is stay, then we should better build it on the most solid foundation that we can.