Java Pathfinder

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Java Pathfinder
Stable release
6.0 / November 30, 2010 (2010-11-30)
Written inJava
Operating systemCross-platform
Size1.6 MB (archived)
TypeSoftware verification tool, Virtual machine
LicenseApache License Version 2

Java Pathfinder (JPF) is a system to verify executable Java bytecode programs. JPF was developed at the NASA Ames Research Center and open sourced in 2005. The acronym JPF is not to be confused with the unrelated Java Plugin Framework project.

The core of JPF is a Java Virtual Machine. JPF executes normal Java bytecode programs and can store, match and restore program states. Its primary application has been Model checking of concurrent programs, to find defects such as data races and deadlocks. With its respective extensions, JPF can also be used for a variety of other purposes, including

  • model checking of distributed applications
  • model checking of user interfaces
  • test case generation by means of symbolic execution
  • low level program inspection
  • program instrumentation and runtime monitoring

JPF has no fixed notion of state space branches and can handle both data and scheduling choices.


The following system under test contains a simple race condition between two threads accessing the same variable d in statements (1) and (2), which can lead to a division by zero exception if (1) is executed before (2)

public class Racer implements Runnable {
     int d = 42;

     public void run() {
          d = 0;                              // (1)

     public static void main(String[] args) {
          Racer racer = new Racer();
          Thread t = new Thread(racer);

          int c = 420 / racer.d;              // (2)
     static void doSomething(int n) {
          try { Thread.sleep(n); } catch (InterruptedException ix) {}

Without any additional configuration, JPF would find and report the division by zero. If JPF is configured to verify absence of race conditions (regardless of their potential downstream effects), it will produce the following output, explaining the error and showing a counter example leading to the error

JavaPathfinder v6.0 - (C) RIACS/NASA Ames Research Center
====================================================== system under test
====================================================== error #1
race for field Racer@13d.d
  main at Racer.main(
		"int c = 420 / racer.d;               "  : getfield
  Thread-0 at
		"d = 0;                               "  : putfield

====================================================== trace #1
---- transition #0 thread: 0
---- transition #3 thread: 1
      [3 insn w/o sources]                  : try { Thread.sleep(n); } catch (InterruptedException ix) {}                  : }                   : d = 0;                      
---- transition #5 thread: 0
gov.nasa.jpf.jvm.choice.ThreadChoiceFromSet[id="sharedField",isCascaded:false,{>main,Thread-0}]                  : int c = 420 / racer.d;


JPF is an open system that can be extended in a variety of ways. The main extension constructs are

  • listeners - to implement complex properties (e.g. temporal properties)
  • peer classes - to execute code at the host JVM level (instead of JPF), which is mostly used to implement native methods
  • bytecode factories - to provide alternative execution semantics of bytecode instructions (e.g. to implement symbolic execution)
  • choice generators - to implement state space branches such as scheduling choices or data value sets
  • serializers - to implement program state abstractions
  • publishers - to produce different output formats
  • search policies - to use different program state space traversal algorithms

JPF includes a runtime module system to package such constructs into separate JPF extension projects. A number of such projects are available from the main JPF server, including a symbolic execution mode, numeric analysis, race condition detection for relaxed memory models, user interface model checking and many more.


  • JPF cannot analyze Java native methods. If the system under test calls such methods, these have to be provided within peer classes, or intercepted by listeners
  • as a model checker, JPF is susceptible to Combinatorial explosion, although it performs on-the-fly Partial order reduction
  • the configuration system for JPF modules and runtime options can be complex

See also[edit]

  • MoonWalker - similar to Java PathFinder, but for .NET programs instead of Java programs

External links[edit]


  • Willem Visser, Corina S. Păsăreanu, Sarfraz Khurshid. Test Input Generation with Java PathFinder. In: George S. Avrunin, Gregg Rothermel (Eds.): Proceedings of the ACM/SIGSOFT International Symposium on Software Testing and Analysis 2004. ACM Press, 2004. ISBN 1-58113-820-2.
  • Willem Visser, Klaus Havelund, Guillaume Brat, Seungjoon Park, Flavio Lerda, Model Checking Programs, Automated Software Engineering 10(2), 2003.
  • Klaus Havelund, Willem Visser, Program Model Checking as a New Trend, STTT 4(1), 2002.
  • Klaus Havelund, Thomas Pressburger, Model Checking Java Programs using Java PathFinder, STTT 2(4), 2000.