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Your Flying Car is Ready: Amazing Programming Tools of the Future, Today!

That’s the title of my presentation at Dog Food Conference 2014, 29-30 September, in Columbus, Ohio. If you found my post on "Test-Only Development" with the Z3 Theorem Prover was interesting, then you’ll love this.

What if simply writing "unit tests" was enough to produce a program which makes them pass? What if your compiler could guarantee that your OpenSSL replacement follows the TLS specification to the letter? What if you could write a test which showed that your code had no unintentional behavior?

Microsoft Research is well known for its contributions to Kinect, F#, the Entity Framework, WorldWide Telescope, and more, but it’s also the home of a number of programming tools which do things which many programmers would consider surprising, if not impossible. But they work, and in this session you’ll see them in action.

Like the idea of code contracts, but concerned about runtime performance and errors? The Dafny language can check contracts at compile time. Sounds a bit magical, but it works! I’ll use the Z3 theorem prover to generate working programs from specifications alone. Sound impractical? I’ll explain how it is used to make Hyper-V and Windows Azure secure. I’ll show the F7 specification language for F# and relate how its authors used it to not only produce a TLS implementation which probably follows the spec, but to also identify dangerous holes in the TLS specification itself. You’ll learn how Amazon uses the TLA+ specification language to prove that there are no edge cases in its internal protocols.

Far from being research toys, these tools are in daily use in cases where stability, security, and reliability of code matters most. Can they help with your hardest problems? You might be surprised!

{ 1 } Comments

  1. Mason Wheeler | August 1, 2014 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Interesting, though having lived in a number of places where dealing with horrible, stupid drivers is an everyday occurrence, I would look upon the invention of a flying car with dread, not enthusiasm. All these idiots who can’t handle 2 dimensions in a safe and civilized manner are bad enough; who in their right mind would want to give them a third?

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