A Theory of Synchronous Relational Interfaces

Stavros Tripakis, Ben Lickly, Thomas Henzinger, Edward A. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Compositional theories are crucial when designing large and complex systems from smaller components. In this work we propose such a theory for synchronous concurrent systems. Our approach follows so-called interface theories, which use game-theoretic interpretations of composition and refinement. These are appropriate for systems with distinct inputs and outputs, and explicit conditions on inputs that must be enforced during composition. Our interfaces model systems that execute in an infinite sequence of synchronous rounds. At each round, a contract must be satisfied. The contract is simply a relation specifying the set of valid input/output pairs. Interfaces can be composed by parallel, serial or feedback composition. A refinement relation between interfaces is defined, and shown to have two main properties: (1) it is preserved by composition, and (2) it is equivalent to substitutability, namely, the ability to replace an interface by another one in any context. Shared refinement and abstraction operators, corresponding to greatest lower and least upper bounds with respect to refinement, are also defined. Input-complete interfaces, that impose no restrictions on inputs, and deterministic interfaces, that produce a unique output for any legal input, are discussed as special cases, and an interesting duality between the two classes is exposed. A number of illustrative examples are provided, as well as algorithms to compute compositions, check refinement, and so on, for finite-state interfaces.
Original languageEnglish
Article number14
Pages (from-to)1-41
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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