SPARK 19 Release Notes

We present here a few highlights of the new features in SPARK 19. You can access the complete list here.

Program Specification

More Precise Support for ‘Image and ‘Img Attributes

To avoid spurious range checks on string operations involving occurrences of the 'Img, 'Image, 'Wide_Image, and 'Wide_Wide_Image attributes, GNATprove makes an assumption about the maximal length of the returned string. If the attribute applies to an integer type, the bounds are the maximal size of the result of the attribute as specified in the language. Otherwise, GNATprove assumes that the length of such a string cannot exceed 255 (the maximal number of characters in a line) times 8 (the maximal size of a Wide_Wide_Character).

Support for More Fixed-Point Types and Operations

Fixed-point types with more values of small are now supported: instead of requiring that the small is a negative power of 2 or 5, it is sufficient now that the small is the reciprocal of an integer. For example, a value of small of (1.0 / 400.0) is now supported while it was previously rejected.

Operations that mix different fixed-point types are also supported now in some cases: multiplication and division between fixed-points which result in a fixed-point are supported when their respective smalls are compatible in the sense of Ada RM G.2.3(21). This ensures that the result is precisely computed.

New SPARK-Compatible Libraries for Dimensional Analysis

It is now possible to rely on units from the GNAT library to do dimensional analysis on SPARK code. While the previous unit System.Dim.Mks based on Long_Long_Float is still not supported by GNATprove on platforms where Long_Long_Float is 128 bits, the new units System.Dim.Float_Mks and System.Dim.Long_Mks, based respectively on Float and Long_Float, are supported.

New Lemmas for Exponentiation, Fixed-Point Arithmetic and Higher-Order Functions

The SPARK lemma library has been enriched with:

  • two lemmas on the monotonicity of exponentiation on signed integers,

  • three GNAT-specific lemmas about the monotonicity and rounding properties of division between a value of a fixed-point type and an integer, and

  • a new unit providing higher order functions over arrays (Map, Fold and common instances of Fold, namely Count and Sum) with general purpose lemmas for Count and Sum.

Tool Automation

Automatic Detection of Array Initialization with Non-Static Bounds

GNATprove could already detect when an array is initialized in a FOR loop, but only for arrays with static bounds. Now it can also detect initialization of single-dimensional arrays with nonstatic bounds. For example, it does not issue a false alarm anymore on the following code, as it can detect that out parameter S is fully initialized in the loop:

procedure Flush (S : out String) is
   for C in S'Range loop
      S (C) := ' ';
   end loop;
end Flush;

Automatic Unrolling of Loops with Dynamic Bounds or Executed Only Once

GNATprove can unroll more loops than previously. As before, this additional unrolling only applies to loops for which no loop invariant is provided, and it can be suppressed with switch --no-loop-unrolling.

GNATprove can now unroll loops with bounds that are not known statically, provided the maximum range given by their type is small (less than 20 possible values). For example, this allows proving the postcondition of function Subtract in the following program:

package Types is
   subtype Small_Ints is Natural range 0 .. 10;
end Types;

with Types; use Types;

function Subtract (Y, X : Small_Ints) return Small_Ints with
  Pre  => Y >= X,
  Post => Subtract'Result = Y - X
   Result : Natural := 0;
   for K in X .. Y loop  --  no loop invariant is needed
      Result := Result + 1;
   end loop;

   return Result - 1;
end Subtract;

GNATprove can also unroll loops of the form for J in 1 .. 1 that are used to simulate forward gotos (not allowed in SPARK) with loop exits (which are allowed in SPARK). For example, this allows proving the postcondition of function Check_Ordered in the following program:

procedure Check_Ordered (W, X, Y, Z : Integer; Success : out Boolean) with
  Post => Success = (W <= X and X <= Y and Y <= Z)
   Success := False;

   for J in 1 .. 1 loop  --  no loop invariant is needed
      if W > X then

      elsif X > Y then
      end if;

      exit when Y > Z;

      Success := True;
   end loop;

   --  more code here...

end Check_Ordered;

Improved Support for Floating-Point Computations

CVC4 prover has been enhanced to deal natively with floating-point numbers. GNATprove now uses this native support when calling CVC4, which leads to more automatic proofs on floating-point programs.

Tool Interaction

Better Messages

Error Message Now Points at Root Cause for SPARK Violations

When an entity which is not in SPARK is used in a SPARK context, the error message now points to the root cause for the violation. It could be otherwise difficult to get this information when the root cause for a violation is at the end of a chain of entities (for example, the use of an access type inside an expression used in the definition of a type, itself further derived and used in the declaration of a variable).

New Switch –info for Investigating Proof Failures

When using switch --info, GNATprove issues information messages regarding internal decisions that could influence provability:

  • whether candidate loops for automatic unrolling are effectively unrolled or not,

  • whether candidate subprograms for contextual analysis (a.k.a. inlining for proof) are effectively inlined for proof or not, and

  • whether possible subprogram nontermination impacts the proof of calls to that subprogram.

Here are examples of information messages displayed by GNATprove:


Explanation Part in Messages to Investigate Unproved Checks

GNATprove may emit a tentative explanation for an unprovable property when it suspects a missing precondition, postcondition or loop invariant to be the cause of the unprovability. The explanation part follows the usual message of the form:

file:line:col: severity: check might fail

with a part in square brackets such as:

[possible explanation: subprogram at line xxx should mention Var in a precondition]
[possible explanation: loop at line xxx should mention Var in a loop invariant]
[possible explanation: call at line xxx should mention Var in a postcondition]

as shown in this case of a missing precondition:


and this other case of a missing loop invariant:


Warnings Issued by Proof to Detect Inconsistencies

GNATprove can issue warnings as part of proof on:

  • preconditions or postconditions that are always false,

  • dead code after loops, and

  • unreachable branches in assertions and contracts.

These warnings are not enabled by default, as they require calling a prover for each potential warning, which incurs a small cost (1 sec for each property thus checked). They can be enabled with switch --proof-warnings, and their effect is controlled by switch --warnings and pragma Warnings like other warnings.

Here are examples of such warnings issued on the code of Tokeneer, showing parts of postconditions that could be effectively removed as they correspond to unreachable branches:


Better Counterexamples

Counterexamples Now Include Values for Private Types and Floats

Counterexamples that are generated by GNATprove when a check is not proved now include values of private types and floating-point types. For example, the postcondition of Add_Floats below is unprovable and GNATprove displays values of Float parameters that violate the postcondition:


Counterexamples on Individual Paths Through Subprograms

Counterexamples are now always displayed for a single path inside the subprogram. For example, no values are displayed for the statements inside the first branches of the if-statement and case-statement (pointed to by the red arrows) in the program that follows, when displaying the counterexample corresponding to the unproved check at the bottom:


Better Integration in GPS

Path for Missing Dependency Can Be Displayed

GNATprove can now highlight in GPS the path for a dependency missing from the Depends contract. Like other paths, it is displayed when clicking on the magnify icon associated with the corresponding message.

Possibility to Run Analysis on Region of Code in GPS

A new switch --limit-region has been added to limit analysis to a range of lines inside a given file. This option is accessible from GPS through the contextual menu SPARK ‣ Prove Selected Region, available whenever a region is selected.


New Analysis Report Panel in GPS

GPS can display an interative view reporting the results of the analysis, with a count of issues per file, subprogram and severity, as well as filters to selectively view a subset of the issues only. This interactive view is displayed using the menu SPARK ‣ Show Report. This menu becomes available after the checkbox Display analysis report is checked in the SPARK section of the Preferences dialog - menu Edit ‣ Preferences, and only if GNATprove was run so that there are results to display.

Here is an example of this view:


Tool Usability

New Switches

GNATprove comes with a few additional switches, beyond those mentioned previously:

  • switch --memlimit to limit the memory used by provers,

  • switch --checks-as-errors to treat failed checks as errors, and

  • support for switches --subdirs and --no-subprojects already used in other AdaCore tools, to respectively create all artifacts under a specific subdirectory, and to analyse only the root project.

Better Predictability of Running Time with –level Switch

Switch --level used to change the strategy for generating formulas between levels, which could lead to very long running time at levels 3 and 4. This is not the case anymore, all levels now use the same strategy but increase the prover timeout instead, leading to more predictable comparative slowdown between levels.

Speedup on Large Projects

When analyzing a unit, GNATprove does not process anymore unused entities of other units. As a consequence, large projects with code that is mostly not in SPARK, or which does contain very few SPARK_Mode annotations, are processed much faster by GNATprove.