Ruling out errors in computer programs

Freiburg team winner of the 5. International Competition on Software Verificaton



Vincent Langenfeld, Daniel Dietsch, Alexander Nutz (back, left to

Cars, planes, medical devices, the infrastructure of the internet: software is everywhere. Faulty software, for example in an Advanced Driver Assistant System, leads to high economic damages for manufacturers and life-threatening situations for users. The International Competition on Software Verification (SV-COMP) allows developers of automated program analysis tools to measure themselves.
Such tools can prove the existence or, respectively, the absence of errors in a given program. The team from the Department of Computer Science of the University of Freiburg, with Matthias Heizmann and Daniel Dietsch as the main developers, has won the competition with their tool called "Ultimate Automizer".

35 teams from 14 different countries participated in this inofficial world-championship. During the competition, their tools were applied to several thousand programs.  The tool had to report, for each of those programs, whether the program contained an error or not. To avoid guesses, each wrong answer was heavily penalized (by subtracting 16 times the number of points for the right answer).
The solution of the Freiburger team is based on a new paradigm. The paradigm has been invented in 2009 in the Chair for Software Engineering, lead by Prof. Dr. Andreas Podelski. Since 2009, more than 40 Bachelor, Master, and PhD theses have contributed to the research on this paradigm. "Partners from the automotive industry already use our tool today, but program verification is something like the holy grail in Computer Science.   It will remain a grand challenge in fundamental science for a long time", says Podelski.

The award will be presented on 6th of April 2016 at the 22. TACAS conference in Eindhoven, NL.

Dr. Matthias Heizmann
Chair for Software Engineering,
Department of Computer Science
University of Freiburg
Phone: + 49 761/203-8235
Email: heizmann(at)

Natascha Thoma-Widmann
Faculty of Engineering
University of Freiburg
Phone: 0761/203-8056
Email: thoma-widmann(at)

right), Marius Greitschus, Matthias Heizmann und Christian Schilling (front,


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