Scientific Theories of Computational Systems in Model Checking

Minds and Machines 21 (2):323-336 (2011)
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Model checking, a prominent formal method used to predict and explain the behaviour of software and hardware systems, is examined on the basis of reflective work in the philosophy of science concerning the ontology of scientific theories and model-based reasoning. The empirical theories of computational systems that model checking techniques enable one to build are identified, in the light of the semantic conception of scientific theories, with families of models that are interconnected by simulation relations. And the mappings between these scientific theories and computational systems in their scope are analyzed in terms of suitable specializations of the notions of model of experiment and model of data. Furthermore, the extensively mechanized character of model-based reasoning in model checking is highlighted by a comparison with proof procedures adopted by other formal methods in computer science. Finally, potential epistemic benefits flowing from the application of model checking in other areas of scientific inquiry are emphasized in the context of computer simulation studies of biological information processing



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