ANSI/ISO C Specification Language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
ANSI/ISO C Specification Language
Paradigmdeclarative with few imperative features.
Designed byCommissariat à l'Énergie Atomique and INRIA
DeveloperCommissariat à l'Énergie Atomique and INRIA
First appeared2008
Stable release
2008 / December 2008
Typing disciplinestatic
Major implementations
an implementation is in the Frama-C platform.
Influenced by

The ANSI/ISO C Specification Language (ACSL) is a specification language for C programs, using Hoare style pre- and postconditions and invariants, that follows the design by contract paradigm. Specifications are written as C annotation comments to the C program, which hence can be compiled with any C compiler.

The current verification tool for ACSL is Frama-C.


In 1983, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) commissioned a committee, X3J11, to standardize the C language. The first standard for C was published by ANSI. Although this document was subsequently adopted by International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and subsequent revisions published by ISO have been adopted by ANSI, the name ANSI C continues to be used.

ACSL is a Behavioral Interface Specification Language (BISL). It aims at specifying behavioral properties of C source code. The main inspiration for this language comes from the specification language of the Caduceus tool for deductive verification of behavioral properties of C programs. The specification language of Caduceus is itself inspired from JML which aims at similar goals for Java source code.

One difference with JML, is that ACSL aims at static verification and deductive verification whereas JML aims both at runtime assertion checking and static verification using for instance the ESC/Java tool.


Consider the following example for the prototype of a function named incrstar:

1  /*@ requires \valid(p);
2    @ assigns *p;
3    @ ensures *p == \old(*p) + 1;
4    @*/
5  void incrstar (int *p);

The contract is given by the comment which starts with /*@. Its meaning is as follows:

  • the first line is a precondition: it states that function incrstar must be called with a pointer p that points to a safely allocated memory location.
  • Second line is a frame clause, stating that function incrstar does not modify any memory location but the one pointed to by p.
  • Finally, the ensures clause is a postcondition, which specifies that the value *p is incremented by one.

Tool support[edit]

Most of the features of ACSL are supported by Frama-C.


External links[edit]

The complete ACSL specification is available from the download page of Frama-C.