Model Checking Timed Safety Instrumented Systems


Jussi Lahtinen. Model checking timed safety instrumented systems. Research Report TKK-ICS-R3, Helsinki University of Technology, Department of Information and Computer Science, Espoo, Finland, June 2008.


Defects in safety-critical software systems can cause large economical and other losses. Often these systems are far too complex to be tested extensively. In this work a formal verification technique called model checking is utilized. In the technique, a mathematical model is created that captures the essential behaviour of the system. The specifications of the system are stated in some formal language, usually temporal logic. The behaviour of the model can then be checked exhaustively against a given specification.

This report studies the Falcon arc protection system engineered by UTU Oy, which is controlled by a single programmable logic controller (PLC). Two separate models of the arc protection system are created. Both models consist of a network of timed automata. In the first model, the controller operates in discrete time steps at a specific rate. In the second model, the controller operates at varying frequency in continuous time. Five system specifications were formulated in timed computation tree logic (TCTL). Using the model checking tool Uppaal both models were verified against all five specifications.

The processing times of the verification are measured and presented. The discrete-time model has to be abstracted a lot before it can be verified in a reasonable time. The continuous-time model, however, covered more behaviour than the system to be modelled, and could still be verified in a moderate time period. In that sense, the continuous-time model is better than the discrete-time model.

The main contributions of this report are the model checking of a safety instrumented system controlled by a PLC, and the techniques used to describe various TCTL specifications in Uppaal. The conclusion of the work is that model checking of timed systems can be used in the verification of safety instrumented systems.


safety instrumented systems, model checking, real-time, Uppaal

Suggested BibTeX entry:

    address = {Espoo, Finland},
    author = {Jussi Lahtinen},
    institution = {Helsinki University of Technology, Department of Information and Computer Science},
    month = {June},
    number = {TKK-ICS-R3},
    pages = {viii+56},
    title = {Model Checking Timed Safety Instrumented Systems},
    type = {Research Report},
    year = {2008},

NOTE: Reprint of Master's thesis
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