Sign In

Communications of the ACM

Contributed articles

How Amazon Web Services Uses Formal Methods

How Amazon Web Services Uses Formal Methods, illustration

Since 2011, engineers at Amazon Web Services (AWS) have used formal specification and model checking to help solve difficult design problems in critical systems. Here, we describe our motivation and experience, what has worked well in our problem domain, and what has not. When discussing personal experience we refer to the authors by their initials.

At AWS we strive to build services that are simple for customers to use. External simplicity is built on a hidden substrate of complex distributed systems. Such complex internals are required to achieve high availability while running on cost-efficient infrastructure and cope with relentless business growth. As an example of this growth, in 2006, AWS launched S3, its Simple Storage Service. In the following six years, S3 grew to store one trillion objects.3 Less than a year later it had grown to two trillion objects and was regularly handling 1.1 million requests per second.4


K. Babu

Very reassuring article on the use of formal methods. Can the authors point to 'simple' TLA+ examples to be useful as a pedagogical tool?

Displaying 1 comment

Log in to Read the Full Article

Sign In

Sign in using your ACM Web Account username and password to access premium content if you are an ACM member, Communications subscriber or Digital Library subscriber.

Need Access?

Please select one of the options below for access to premium content and features.

Create a Web Account

If you are already an ACM member, Communications subscriber, or Digital Library subscriber, please set up a web account to access premium content on this site.

Join the ACM

Become a member to take full advantage of ACM's outstanding computing information resources, networking opportunities, and other benefits.

Subscribe to Communications of the ACM Magazine

Get full access to 50+ years of CACM content and receive the print version of the magazine monthly.

Purchase the Article

Non-members can purchase this article or a copy of the magazine in which it appears.
Read CACM in a free mobile app!
Access the latest issue, plus archived issues and more
ACM Logo
  • ACM CACM apps available for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, and Android platforms
  • ACM Digital Library apps available for iOS, Android, and Windows devices
  • Download an app and sign in to it with your ACM Web Account
Find the app for your mobile device