Distributed Versions of Linear Time Temporal Logic: A Trace Perspective

P. S. Thiagarajan
Jesper G. Henriksen

April 1998


Linear time Temporal Logic (LTL) has become a well established tool for specifying the dynamic behaviour of distributed systems. A basic feature of LTL is that its formulas are interpreted over sequences. Typically, such a sequence will model a computation of a system; a sequence of states visited by the system or a sequence of actions executed by the system during the course of the computation.

In many applications the computations of a distributed system will constitute interleavings of the occurrences of causally independent actions. Consequently, the computations can be naturally grouped together into equivalence classes where two computations are equated in case they are two different interleavings of the same partially ordered stretch of behaviour. It turns out that many of the properties expressed as LTL-formulas happen to have the so called ``all-or-none'' property. Either all members of an equivalence class of computations will have the desired property or none will do (``leads to deadlock'' is one such property). For verifying such properties one has to check the property for just one member of each equivalence class. This is the insight underlying many of the partial-order based verification methods in which the computational resources required for the verification task can often be dramatically reduced.

It is often the case that the equivalence classes of computations generated by a distributed system constitute objects called Mazurkiewicz traces. They can be canonically represented as restricted labelled partial orders. This opens up an alternative way of exploiting the non-sequential nature of the computations of a distributed systems and the attendant partial-order based methods. It consists of developing linear time temporal logics that can be directly interpreted over Mazurkiewicz traces. In these logics, every specification is guaranteed to have the ``all-or-none'' property and hence can take advantage of the partial-order based reduction methods during the verification process. The study of these logics also exposes the richness of the partial-order settings from a logical standpoint and the complications that can arise as a consequence.

Our aim here is to present an overview of linear time temporal logics whose models can be viewed as Mazurkiewicz traces. The presentation is, in principle, self-contained though previous exposure to temporal logics and automata over infinite objects will be very helpful. We have provided net-theoretic examples whenever possible in order to emphasize the broad scope of applicability of the material

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