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Removing an element from a singly-linked list

Removing an element from a singly-linked list.


Authors: Jean-Christophe Filliâtre / Andrei Paskevich

Topics: List Data Structure / Pointer Programs

Tools: Why3

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Removing an element from a singly-linked list.

Authors: Jean-Christophe FilliĆ¢tre (CNRS) Andrei Paskevich (Univ Paris-Saclay)

The following is inspired by this interview of Linus Torvalds:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8NPllzkFhE

Assume that you are given singly-linked lists in C, like this:

typedef struct Entry *entry; struct Entry { entry next; }; typedef struct List { entry head; } *list;

That is, there is a header structure (struct List) with a 'head' field to the first element of a singly-linked list of list cells (struct Entry).

You are given a list 'l' and some entry 'e' that belongs to the list, and you have to remove it from the list. There is a pedestrian way of doing it, like this:

void remove(list l, entry e) { entry prev = NULL, curr = l->head; while (curr != e) { prev = curr; curr = curr->next; } if (prev) prev->next = curr->next; else l->head = curr->next; }

But there is another one which avoids making a particular case for the first element, like this:

void remove2(list l, entry e) { entry *ind = &l->head; while ( *ind != e ) ind = &( *ind )->next; *ind = ( *ind )->next; }

In the following, we explore the loop invariants involved in the verification of these two programs. We make the following two simplifications:

- The memory model does not make a distinction between the two types of structures. In practice, this is an important point in the discussion. But here we are rather focusing on the loop invariants.

- In the function contract, we underspecify the problem, using only the length of the list, not its contents.

use int.Int
use map.Map

Minimal memory model

type loc
val (=) (x y: loc) : bool ensures { result <-> x=y }

type mem = loc -> loc
val ref mem: mem

val constant null: loc

val constant head: loc
val constant entry: loc (* the entry to be removed from the list *)

Program global variables

axiom head_is_not_null : head <> null
axiom entry_is_not_null: entry <> null
axiom head_is_not_entry: head <> entry

Chains of pointers.

let rec predicate list (mem: loc -> loc) (x: loc) (n :int) (y: loc)
  requires { n >= 0 }
  variant  { n }
= if n = 0 then x = y
  else x <> null && list mem mem[x] (n - 1) y

When starting from x and dereferencing pointers n times we get y

val get (x: loc) : loc
  requires { x <> null }
  ensures  { result = mem[x] }

val set (x y: loc) : unit
  requires { x <> null }
  writes   { mem }
  ensures  { mem = (old mem)[x <- y] }

let rec lemma list_concat
  (mem: mem) (x: loc) (n1: int) (y: loc) (n2: int) (z: loc)
  requires { n1 >= 0 } requires { n2 >= 0 }
  requires { list mem x n1 y }
  requires { y <> null }
  requires { list mem mem[y] n2 z }
  ensures  { list mem x (n1 + 1 + n2) z }
  variant  { n1 }
= if n1 > 0 then list_concat mem mem[x] (n1 - 1) y n2 z

lemma path_shorten:
  forall mem x n y. list mem x n y -> n > 0 -> list mem mem[x] (n - 1) y

lemma path_extend:
  forall mem x n y. n >= 0 -> list mem y n x -> x <> null ->
  list mem y (n + 1) mem[x]

let rec lemma no_cycle_to_null (mem: mem) (e: loc) (n n': int)
  requires { 0 < n } requires { 0 <= n' } requires { e <> null }
  requires { list mem e n e }
  requires { list mem e n' null } ensures { false }
  variant  { n' }
= if n' > 0 then begin
    list_concat mem mem[e] (n-1) e 0 mem[e];
    no_cycle_to_null mem mem[e] n (n' - 1)
  end

let lemma jump_over (mem: mem) (x: loc) (n1: int) (y: loc) (n2: int)
  requires { n1 >= 0   } requires { list mem x n1 y }
  requires { y <> null } requires { mem[y] <> null }
  requires { n2 > 0    } requires { list mem mem[y] n2 null }
  ensures  { list mem[y <- mem[mem[y]]] x (n1 + n2) null }
= assert { list mem mem[mem[y]] (n2 - 1) null };
  let mem' = mem[y <- mem[mem[y]]] in
  let rec frame_after (n': int) (z: loc) (n: int)
     requires { 0 <= n' } requires { list mem y n' z    } requires { z <> y }
     requires { 0 <= n  } requires { list mem z n  null }
     ensures  { list mem' z n null }
     variant  { n }
  = if n > 0 then frame_after (n' + 1) mem[z] (n - 1) in
  let rec frame_before (z: loc) (n: int)
    requires { n >= 0 }
    requires { list mem  z n y }
    ensures  { list mem' z n y }
    variant  { n }
  = if n > 0 then frame_before mem[z] (n - 1) in
  frame_after 1 mem[y] n2;
  assert { list mem' mem[mem[y]] (n2 - 1) null };
  assert { list mem' y n2 null };
  frame_before x n1;
  ()

(* Code 1 *)

let remove1 (ghost n1 n2: int) : unit
  requires { n1 > 0 } requires { n2 > 0 }
  requires { list mem head  n1 entry }
  requires { list mem entry n2 null }
  ensures  { list mem head  (n1 + n2 - 1) null }
= let ref prev = null in
  let ref curr = get head in
  let ghost ref n = 1 in
  while curr <> entry do
    invariant { 0 < n <= n1 }
    invariant { list mem head n curr }
    invariant { curr <> null }
    invariant { prev = null -> n = 1 }
    invariant { prev <> null -> mem[prev] = curr }
    invariant { prev <> null -> list mem head (n - 1) prev }
    invariant { list mem curr (n1 - n) entry }
    invariant { list mem entry n2 null }
    variant   { n1 - n }
    prev <- curr;
    curr <- get curr;
    n <- n + 1
  done;
  if prev = null then (
    jump_over mem head 0 head n2;
    set head (get curr);
  ) else
    set prev (get curr)

(* Code 2 *)

let remove2 (ghost n1 n2: int) : unit
  requires { n1 > 0 } requires { n2 > 0 }
  requires { list mem head  n1 entry }
  requires { list mem entry n2 null }
  ensures  { list mem head  (n1 + n2 - 1) null }
= let ref ind = head in
  let ghost ref n = 1 in
  while get ind <> entry do
    invariant { 0 < n <= n1 }
    invariant { ind <> null }
    invariant { list mem head (n - 1) ind }
    invariant { list mem mem[ind] (n1 - n) entry }
    invariant { list mem entry n2 null }
    variant   { n1 - n }
    ind <- get ind;
    n <- n + 1
  done;
  set ind (get entry)

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Why3 Proof Results for Project "list_removal"

Theory "list_removal.Top": fully verified

ObligationsAlt-Ergo 2.3.0CVC4 1.7Eprover 2.0Z3 4.8.6
VC for list------------
split_vc
variant decrease0.00---------
precondition0.00---------
VC for list_concat------------
split_vc
variant decrease0.00---------
precondition0.00---------
precondition0.00---------
precondition---0.03------
precondition---0.02------
precondition---0.01------
postcondition------------
split_vc
postcondition0.01---------
path_shorten0.00---------
path_extend------0.01---
VC for no_cycle_to_null------------
split_vc
precondition0.02---------
precondition0.00---------
precondition---0.04------
precondition---0.03------
precondition---0.02------
variant decrease0.01---------
precondition0.00---------
precondition0.00---------
precondition0.01---------
precondition0.00---------
precondition0.00---------
postcondition0.00---------
VC for jump_over------------
split_vc
assertion---0.06------
variant decrease---0.02------
precondition---0.03------
precondition---0.02------
precondition---0.06------
precondition---0.02------
precondition---0.02------
postcondition---0.02------
variant decrease---0.02------
precondition---0.02------
precondition---0.02------
postcondition---0.10------
precondition---0.03------
precondition---0.02------
precondition---0.03------
precondition---0.02------
precondition---0.01------
assertion---0.03------
assertion---0.03------
precondition---0.02------
precondition---0.02------
postcondition---0.08------
VC for remove1------------
split_vc
precondition---0.03------
loop invariant init------------
split_vc
loop invariant init0.01---------
loop invariant init0.01---------
loop invariant init0.00---------
loop invariant init0.00---------
loop invariant init---0.02------
loop invariant init0.00---------
loop invariant init0.00---------
loop invariant init0.00---------
loop invariant init0.00---------
precondition---0.02------
loop variant decrease0.00---------
loop invariant preservation0.01---------
loop invariant preservation0.01---------
loop invariant preservation0.01---------
loop invariant preservation---0.01------
loop invariant preservation0.00---------
loop invariant preservation0.00---------
loop invariant preservation0.00---------
loop invariant preservation------0.01---
precondition---0.02------
precondition---0.03------
precondition0.00---------
precondition---0.02------
precondition---0.01------
precondition---0.02------
precondition0.02---------
precondition---0.02------
postcondition---------0.02
precondition0.00---------
precondition------------
split_vc
precondition---------0.03
postcondition---2.60------
VC for remove2------------
split_vc
loop invariant init0.01---------
loop invariant init0.00---------
loop invariant init0.00---------
loop invariant init0.00---------
loop invariant init0.01---------
precondition0.01---------
precondition0.010.02------
loop variant decrease0.00---------
loop invariant preservation0.00---------
loop invariant preservation0.00---------
loop invariant preservation0.00---------
loop invariant preservation0.01---------
loop invariant preservation0.00---------
precondition---0.02------
precondition0.00---------
postcondition---------0.02