Working Seminar on Formal Models, Discrete Structures, and Algorithms

Proving Termination of Probabilistic Programs Using Patterns

Andreas Gaiser (Technical university Munich)

When: April 12, 2pm

Where: room G2.91b


Proving programs terminating is a fundamental computer science challenge. Recent research has produced powerful tools that can check a wide range of programs for termination. The analog for probabilistic programs, namely termination with probability one (almost-sure termination), is an equally important property for randomized algorithms and probabilistic protocols. We suggest a novel algorithm for proving almost-sure termination of probabilistic programs. Our algorithm exploits the power of state-of-the-art model checkers and termination provers for nonprobabilistic programs: it calls such tools within a refinement loop and thereby iteratively constructs a ``terminating pattern'', which is a set of terminating runs with probability one. We report on various case studies illustrating the effectiveness of our algorithm. As a further application, our algorithm can improve lower bounds on reachability probabilities.

This is joint work with Javier Esparza and Stefan Kiefer.