[P4-design] P4 Formal semantics?

Nick McKeown nickm at stanford.edu
Mon Oct 17 23:52:56 EDT 2016

Grigore - this is a really awesome proposal :) Personally, I'd love to 
see this happen. Let's explore to see how this would work. Are you 
familiar enough with P4 already to feel comfortable this is doable? What 
kind of support will you need from this group (or the community at large)?

- Nick

On 10/17/16 2:30 PM, Rosu, Grigore wrote:
> Dear P4 Designers,
> I have a PhD student who is looking for a topic and, after some 
> discussion with Nikolaj Bjorner, we think that defining a formal 
> semantics to P4 could be a timely and useful project.  Note that we 
> would do it using the K framework (http://kframework.org), so the 
> semantics would immediately yield a series of formal analysis tools 
> for P4, such as simulator/interpreter, symbolic execution, bounded 
> model checking, symbolic model checking, and even a deductive 
> verifier.  Our overall paradigm is explained on this 
> wikipage: http://fsl.cs.illinois.edu/index.php/Programming_Language_Design_and_Semantics.
> The main question right now is whether you think this is a worthwhile 
> thing to do right now, or we should better wait a bit longer until 
> things stabilize.  On the other hand, note that giving a formal 
> semantics in K is a rather lightweight process, nothing comparable 
> with doing the same thing in Coq or Isabelle (for example, it took 
> only 4 months to define the K semantics of JavaScript ES5), so it can 
> be used as an active means to even design P4 itself.  So in case we go 
> ahead with it, it would be great if some of you would like to get 
> involved as well, to make sure we stay on the right track.  My student 
> would do most of the K "coding", but you and I would supervise him to 
> make sure he is doing the right thing right.
> Best,
> Grigore
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