Reasoning in the Bernays-Schoenfinkel-Ramsey Fragment of Separation Logic

Andrew Reynolds, Radu Iosif, Cristina Serban

Separation Logic (SL) is a well-known assertion language used in Hoare-style modular proof systems for programs with dynamically allocated data structures. In this paper we investigate the fragment of first-order SL restricted to the Bernays-Schoenfinkel-Ramsey quantifier prefix $\exists^*\forall^*$, where the quantified variables range over the set of memory locations. When this set is uninterpreted (has no associated theory) the fragment is PSPACE-complete, which matches the complexity of the quantifier-free fragment. However, SL becomes undecidable when the quantifier prefix belongs to $\exists^*\forall^*\exists^*$ instead, or when the memory locations are interpreted as integers with linear arithmetic constraints, thus setting a sharp boundary for decidability within SL. We have implemented a decision procedure for the decidable fragment of $\exists^*\forall^*$SL as a specialized solver inside a DPLL($T$) architecture, within the CVC4 SMT solver. The evaluation of our implementation was carried out using two sets of verification conditions, produced by (i) unfolding inductive predicates, and (ii) a weakest precondition-based verification condition generator. Experimental data shows that automated quantifier instantiation has little overhead, compared to manual model-based instantiation.

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