Modularity, Code Specialization, and Zero-Cost Abstractions for Program Verification
For all the successes in verifying low-level, efficient, security-critical code, little has been said or studied about the structure, architecture and engineering of such large-scale proof developments. We present the design, implementation and evaluation of a set of language-based techniques that allow the programmer to modularly write and prove code at a high level of abstraction, while retaining control over the compilation process and producing high-quality, zero-overhead, low-level code suitable for integration into mainstream software.
We implement our techniques within the F* proof assistant, and specifically its shallowly-embedded Low* toolchain that compiles to C. Through our evaluation, we establish that our techniques were critical in scaling the popular HACL* library past 100,000 lines of verified source code, and brought about significant gains in proof engineer productivity. The exposition of our methodology converges on one final, novel case study: the streaming API, a finicky API that has historically caused many bugs in high-profile software. Using our approach, we manage to capture the streaming semantics in a generic way, and apply it ``for free'' to over a dozen use-cases. Six of those have made it into the reference implementation of the Python programming language, replacing the previous CVE-ridden code.