Modelling, Checking and Implementing a Control Program
for a Radiation Therapy Machine

Jonathan Jacky and Michael Patrick

December, 1996


We are developing a control program for a unique radiation therapy machine. The program is safety-critical, executes several concurrent tasks, and must meet real-time deadlines. We have produced about 250 pages of informal specification and design description, about 1200 lines of Z and about 6000 lines of code. The Z description includes an abstract level that expresses overall safety requirements and a concrete level that serves as a detailed design, where Z paragraphs correspond to data structures, functions and procedures in the code. We express requirements in the abstract level that we would like to check in the concrete level; checking these properties automatically could reveal subtle errors in the detailed design. We selected a small portion of our design (13 transitions, 227 lines of Z, corresponding to 331 lines of code) and performed a pencil-and-paper (non-automated) analyses that revealed several errors. We translated this portion of our Z model to the SMV input language. The translation requires considerable simplification, where Z predicates and numerical, structured variable values are encoded as small integers. We repeated our analyses using the SMV model checker. The automated analyses detected the known errors (we did not detect any additional errors in our corrected version).