Department of Computer Science and Technology

Technical reports

Translating HOL functions to hardware

Juliano Iyoda

April 2007, 89 pages

This technical report is based on a dissertation submitted October 2006 by the author for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy to the University of Cambridge, Hughes Hall.

DOI: 10.48456/tr-682


Delivering error-free products is still a major challenge for hardware and software engineers. Due to the increasingly growing complexity of computing systems, there is a demand for higher levels of automation in formal verification.

This dissertation proposes an approach to generate formally verified circuits automatically. The main outcome of our project is a compiler implemented on top of the theorem prover HOL4 which translates a subset of higher-order logic to circuits. The subset of the logic is a first-order tail-recursive functional language. The compiler takes a function f as argument and automatically produces the theorem “⊢ C implements f” where C is a circuit and “implements” is a correctness relation between a circuit and a function. We achieve full mechanisation of proofs by defining theorems which are composable. The correctness of a circuit can be mechanically determined by the correctness of its sub-circuits. This technology allows the designer to focus on higher levels of abstraction instead of reasoning and verifying systems at the gate level.

A pretty-printer translates netlists described in higher-order logic to structural Verilog. Our compiler is integrated with Altera tools to run our circuits in FPGAs. Thus the theorem prover is used as an environment for supporting the development process from formal specification to implementation.

Our approach has been tested with fairly substantial case studies. We describe the design and the verification of a multiplier and a simple microcomputer which has shown us that the compiler supports small and medium-sized applications. Although this approach does not scale to industrial-sized applications yet, it is a first step towards the implementation of a new technology that can raise the level of mechanisation in formal verification.

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BibTeX record

  author =	 {Iyoda, Juliano},
  title = 	 {{Translating HOL functions to hardware}},
  year = 	 2007,
  month = 	 apr,
  url = 	 {},
  institution =  {University of Cambridge, Computer Laboratory},
  doi = 	 {10.48456/tr-682},
  number = 	 {UCAM-CL-TR-682}