ERCIM News No.44 - January 2001 [contents]


by Tommaso Bolognesi

The 20th anniversary of the IFIP WG6.1 Joint International Conference on Formal Methods for Distributed Systems and Communication Protocols was celebrated in Pisa, Italy, in October with FORTE XIII / PSTV XX. There were over 90 participants in this very successful ERCIM sponsored event.

The programme committee selected 22 papers for presentation at the Conference out of the more than 60 submitted. The central themes were the theory and practice of Distributed System Verification (with Model Checking playing a predominant role), and Testing. That the early pioneering phases in the development of Formal Methods (FMs), with their misconceptions and myths and their over-optimistic applications to toy examples and over-skeptical views about scalability to industrial cases, are essentially over was shown by a number of papers that reported on successful experiences in specifying and verifying real distributed systems and protocols. The Conference also indicated that testing theory and applications remain remarkably healthy, showing that the idea that the adoption of FMs would eventually eliminate the need for testing is still far from becoming a reality

Several presentations addressed the analysis of communication protocols, with some of them paying particular attention to multicast protocols. Other papers dealt with the specification, implementation and testing of hardware systems. The issue of formal semantics was also covered, but to a lesser extent than in past editions of the Conference; a further indication of the shift of emphasis from the definition to the application of FM’s. Three invited speakers - Rocco De Nicola, Fausto Giunchiglia, and John Rushby - gave talks on Verification and Security protocols and there were also two tutorial/advanced seminar tracks.

On the first day, a multidisciplinary Satellite Workshop - ‘Formal Methods Elsewhere’ - was devoted to applications of FM’s to areas other than communication protocols and distributed systems, such as physics, chemistry, biology, social sciences, arts and humanities, music. After two decades, FM’s are perhaps ready to spread out of their native territory and invade new exciting areas of research, for a wider exploitation of the huge intellectual investment behind their definition.

A few copies of the Conference Proceedings (published by Kluwer Academic Publishers) and of the Tutorial Notes are still available; please e-mail Grazia Carrai at Consorzio Pisa Ricerche if interested (

Please contact:
Tommaso Bolognesi - IEI-CNR
Tel: +39 050 3152797

Diego Latella - CNUCE-CNR
Tel: +39 050 3152982