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Communications of the ACM

Communications of the ACM

Dynamic verification of operating system decisions

Dynamic verification of a decision implies that every time the decision is made there is a consistency check performed on the decision using independent hardware and software. The dynamic verification of operating system decisions is used on the PRIME system being designed and constructed at the University of California, Berkeley. PRIME is an experimental time-sharing system which is to have the properties of continuous availability, data privacy, and cost effectiveness. The technique of dynamic verification allows the construction of an operating system which does not make certain decisions improperly even in the presence of a single hardware or software fault. Furthermore, multiple faults lead to unreliable operation only if the faults happen to reinforce each other. On PRIME, dynamic verification is used to ensure that one user's information cannot become available to another user gratuitously even in the presence of a single hardware or software fault. The amount of additional hardware and software required for dynamic verification can be modest.

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