TitleHigh Assurance Computer Systems: A Research Agenda
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication1995
AuthorsMcLean, J., and C. L. Heitmeyer
Conference NameAmerica in the Age of Information, National Science and Technology Council Committee on Information and Communications Forum
Conference LocationBethesda, Maryland

As computers and their supporting communication networks have become increasingly enmeshed in our national technological fabric, we have become increasingly dependent on high assurance computer systems, i.e., computer systems for which compelling evidence is required that the system delivers its services in a manner that satisfies certain critical properties. Examples of high assurance systems include military systems (e.g., weapon systems, C4I systems, etc), flight programs for both commercial and military aircraft, air traffic control systems, financial and commerce systems, medical systems (including medical databases and medical equipment), etc. These systems are extremely complicated and the science and engineering principles that underlie them are yet to be completely worked out. Nevertheless, our national well-being depends upon these systems satisfying certain critical properties including security properties, safety properties, real-time properties, and fault-tolerance properties. This paper briefly summarizes the results of a 1995 workshop on high assurance systems, identifies several examples of high assurance systems that were discussed, provides some details of one of the systems as a representative example, describes some problems that need to be addressed by basic research as well as problems that hinder the use of research results in practical applications, and proposes a research agenda.

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