Model checking of safety-critical software in the nuclear engineering domain

Jussi Lahtinen (Corresponding Author), Janne Valkonen, Kim Björkman, J. Frits, I. Niemelä, K. Heljanko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Instrumentation and control (I&C) systems play a vital role in the operation of safety-critical processes. Digital programmable logic controllers (PLC) enable sophisticated control tasks which sets high requirements for system validation and verification methods. Testing and simulation have an important role in the overall verification of a system but are not suitable for comprehensive evaluation because only a limited number of system behaviors can be analyzed due to time limitations. Testing is also performed too late in the development lifecycle and thus the correction of design errors is expensive. This paper discusses the role of formal methods in software development in the area of nuclear engineering. It puts forward model checking, a computer-aided formal method for verifying the correctness of a system design model, as a promising approach to system verification. The main contribution of the paper is the development of systematic methodology for modeling safety critical systems in the nuclear domain. Two case studies are reviewed, in which we have found errors that were previously not detected. We also discuss the actions that should be taken in order to increase confidence in the model checking process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-113
Number of pages10
JournalReliability Engineering and System Safety
Publication statusPublished - 2012
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed
EventEuropean Safety and Reliability Conference, ESREL 2010 - Rhodes, Greece
Duration: 5 Sep 20109 Sep 2010


  • Automation
  • I&C
  • model checking
  • nuclear
  • safety
  • verification

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