Monday 7 September 2009

TAP 2010, June 28 - July 2, Malaga, Spain

Photo: Pat McDonald
I have been invited to serve on the Program Committee of TAP 2010, the 4th International Conference on Tests & Proofs.

The TAP conference is devoted to the convergence of proofs and tests. It combines ideas from both sides for the advancement of software quality.

Gordon Fraser, a former colleague of mine at TU Graz, is co-chairing the PC with Angelo Gargantini. The conference chairs are Yuri Gurevich, Microsoft Research, USA and Bertrand Meyer, ETH Zuerich, Switzerland.

Last year, we had a paper at TAP 2009 on concolic execution of distributed systems (see my conference papers).

To prove the correctness of a program is to demonstrate, through impeccable mathematical techniques, that it has no bugs; to test a program is to run it with the expectation of discovering bugs. The two techniques seem contradictory: if you have proved your program, it's fruitless to comb it for bugs; and if you are testing it, that is surely a sign that you have given up on any hope to prove its correctness.

Accordingly, proofs and tests have, since the onset of software engineering research, been pursued by distinct communities using rather different techniques and tools.

And yet the development of both approaches leads to the discovery of common issues and to the realization that each may need the other. The emergence of model checking has been one of the first signs that contradiction may yield to complementarity, but in the past few years an increasing number of research efforts have encountered the need for combining proofs and tests, dropping earlier dogmatic views of incompatibility and taking instead the best of what each of these software engineering domains has to offer.

The conference will include a mix of invited and submitted presentation, and a generous allocation of panels and informal discussions. All papers will be published in Springer's LNCS series.