CS 477: Formal Software Development Methods
Students taking this course can expect to acquire an understnading of the following:
  • How to do proofs in Hoare Logic, and what role a loop invaraint plays
  • How to use finite automata to model computer systems
  • How to express properties of concurrent systems in a temporal logic
  • How to use a model checker to verify / falsify a temporal safety property of a concurrent system
  • The connection between types and program properties

Contacting the Course Staff
  • For email and the newsgroup: please allow about 24 or so hours for a response, except on weekends (see below).
  • The staff do not work on the weekends. If you send something late Friday or over the weekend then you should not expect a reply before Monday.
  • Never ever EVER call any staff at home.

Instructions for Submitting Assignments
  • Each student is given an svn directory that needs to be checked out at the beginning of the semester to as follows:
    mkdir <working_directory>
    svn co https://subversion.ews.illinois.edu/svn/sp14-cs477/<your_netid> <working_directory>
  • After the initial checkout, <working_directory> will contain a subdirectory assignments. Once an assignment (mp or hw) has been announced, if you do an
    svn up
    you will add a directory named after the assignment (e.g. mp1) in the mps directory. That directory will contain instructions for the assignment, plus a stub for each file you must turn in.
  • To do an assignment, you will need to follow the instructions given in the directory for that assignment. There will be two kinds of assignments, mps and hws. Mps will be exercises carried out on tools supporting a specific type of formal methods. Hws will be written assignments proving theorems and doing hand calculations. Since the mps involve using various tools, by default you will need to do them on the ews linux machines. Most of the tools should also be avialable form the web to download to you own machine should you choose to work on your own machine.
  • To submit an assignment, once you have completed the necessry files as decribed in the assignment instructions, in the assignment directory or either of the parent directory or the gradparent directory
    svn commit -m "<your comment here>"
    You may restrict svn commit to a specific collection of files and directories by adding a list to the end of the command.
  • You may do multiple commits; the version that is in the repositry at 11:59pm on the due date is that one that will be collected and graded.

Each MP/HW will normally have an automatic 48-hour extension with a penalty on that MP/HW of 20% the total value of the assignment. If we cannot give such an extension for a particular MP/HW, for example due to scheduling constraints, we will announce that when the MP/HW is handed out.

During the automatic extension, staff is not obliged to answer questions for that MP/HW. You are on your own.

Extensions without a point penalty for the first 48 hours and any extension beyond the 48 hours will only be granted under very unusual circumstances such as a medical or family emergency. A signed note from a responsible party will be required. If you do need such an extension for some legitimate reason, do your best to let us know as soon as possible, preferably before the normal MP/HW deadline.

Regrade Policy
Our goal as the course staff is to grade your work carefully and accurately. Unfortunately, occasionally staff may overlook something, misunderstand an otherwise correct answer, or record a score incorrectly. This is where the regrade procedure steps in.

In order to have your regrade considered you must provide the following:

  • your netid;
  • what assignment or exam question was graded incorrectly; and
  • why you think your answer deserves more points than what the grader gave.
You must also submit your regrade request for a particular assignment within one week of receiving grades for that assignment. It must be submitted directly to the course instructor, not to the TAs. Late regrade requests will not be accepted or read.

Good reasons to ask for a regrade:

  • You used a notation that was unfamiliar to the grader but is standard (e.g., in a textbook for one of your other courses).
  • The grader recorded a score incorrectly.
  • The problem was ambiguous (or just plain wrong), causing you to interpret it differently than the grader.
  • The grader marked the problem wrong incorrectly.

Bad reasons to ask for a regrade:

  • Part of your answer "matched" the answer given in the solution. A partially correct answer is still wrong.
    "The difference between an almost right word and a right word is the difference between a lightning bug and lightning." -- Mark Twain
  • You wrote down two or more answers, only one of which was correct. Never put more than one answer for a question unless we tell you that such a thing is legitimate.
  • You expended a lot of effort answering the problem. We are measuring mastery, not effort.
  • You wrote something down.

You are allowed to collaborate on the machine problems (MPs) and the written homework (HWs) of this course, in order to figure out how to solve the problem, resolve things you don't understand, and help each other track down errors or bugs. Nevertheless, you must each write and test your code separately and submit your own MP separately. Similarly, you must write up and submit your own HW separately from others.

If your collaboration extended beyond understanding for what the problem was asking, then you should note on your assignment with whom you collaborated. If you used sources other than the course slides and assignment description for more than general information in solving your problem, you should cite your sources. As always, you are subject to the rules for plagiarism. Whether you pass this course or not will depend heavily on whether you pass the exams -- and those are non-collaborative.

We allow you to collaborate for several reasons:

  • all research done indicates that students learn more when they are allowed to work together;
  • our own ability to respond to student questions is increased because your peers are able to give help.
However, you have to collaborate intelligently in order to get the most out of it. If you ask a friend to describe the solution completely to you and then write it down (in substantially different form), you will get the credit but you'll fail the exam because you never learned the methods/techniques/concepts. If you copy a friend's solution directly or substantially, that will be considered cheating, unless you give a clear cite of your source. If you work as a group, each writing part and sharing it with the others, that is also considered cheating, unless your cite all members from whom you copied. The penalties for being discovered cheating are described in the next section, below. If you offer your solution for others to copy, you should protect yourself from being accused of cheating by reporting this as well. Then, if some of those to whom you have lent your work fail to cite you, you will be protected from cheating accusations (unless they also claim they lent the same problem to you). If you copy your solutions from friends or other sources, you must cite your source.

Think of MPs and written assignments as being part of the practice for the exam. Many of the problems will be used as a basis for the exam problems themselves. In fact, when it comes time to study, we will likely advise you to redo your MPs and written assignments.

Policy on Cheating

We will be looking for cheating on both homeworks and exams. The penalty for being caught cheating a first time -- either sharing your solution on an exam, or copying someone else's solution (without citation, if it is a homework) -- is that you will receive a negative score for the unit cheated on equal to the value of the unit. A homework (MP or written assignment) is one unit. A numbered problem on test, including all its parts, is a unit. The penalty if you are caught cheating a second time is a grade of F for the class. Moreover, if you cheat a second time, both cheating episodes will be reported to the department. You should take all reasonable precautions to prevent others from cheating and report any suspected cheating.

Our goal is to have grades back to you as soon as possible. In practice, this will probably take about a week for each assignment or exam. Whenever your homework is graded, it will be placed in your svn repository, the grade reported on compass, and message will be placed on the class website. Do not ask when grades are available. They will be in your repository and on compass when they are available.

Exams this semester will be take-home and will be given out submitted and returned via the svn repository in the same manner as the assignments.

Grading Breakdown
Work Weight Notes
Machine Problems and Written Assignments (combined)30%
Midterm 30%
Final Exam40%
ProjectNA Only for 4-unit graduate students

There is no required textbook for this course. However, the following textbooks are recommended reading: (see also the resources page)

Contacting Staff
Submitting Assignments
Regrade Policy