Automated Formal Synthesis of Provably Safe Digital Controllers for Continuous Plants

Alessandro Abate, Iury Bessa, Lucas Cordeiro, Cristina David, Pascal Kesseli, Daniel Kroening, Elizabeth Polgreen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
112 Downloads (Pure)


We present a sound and automated approach to synthesizing safe,
digital controllers for physical plants represented as time-invariant models.
Models are linear differential equations with inputs, evolving over a continuous
state space. The synthesis precisely accounts for the effects of finite-precision
arithmetic introduced by the controller. The approach uses counterexampleguided inductive synthesis (CEGIS): an inductive generalization phase produces a controller that is known to stabilize the model but that may not be
safe for all initial conditions of the model. Safety is then verified via Bounded
Model Checking: if the verification step fails, a counterexample is provided
to the inductive generalization, and the process further iterates until a safe
controller is obtained. We demonstrate the practical value of this approach by
automatically synthesizing safe controllers for physical plant models from the
digital control literature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223–244
Number of pages22
JournalActa Informatica
Volume57 (2020)
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2019

Structured keywords

  • Programming Languages


  • Formal Verification
  • Safety requirements
  • Dynamical models
  • Digital control synthesis
  • Analog/Digital conversion
  • Quantization errors


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