Certifying Derivation of State Machines from Coroutines

Mirai Ikebuchi, Andres Erbsen, Adam Chlipala. Certifying Derivation of State Machines from Coroutines. Proceedings of the 49th ACM SIGPLAN-SIGACT Symposium on Principles of Programming Languages (POPL'22). January 2022. Conditionally accepted.

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One of the biggest implementation challenges in security-critical network protocols is nested state machines. In practice today, state machines are either implemented manually at a low level, risking bugs easily missed in audits; or are written using higher-level abstractions like threads, depending on runtime systems that may sacrifice performance or compatibility with the ABIs of important platforms (e.g., resource-constrained IoT systems). We present a compiler-based technique allowing the best of both worlds, coding protocols in a natural high-level form, using freer monads to represent nested coroutines, then compiled automatically to lower-level code with explicit state. In fact, our compiler is implemented as a tactic in the Coq proof assistant, structuring compilation as search for an equivalence proof for source and target programs. As such, it is straightforwardly (and soundly) extensible with new hints, for instance regarding new data structures that may be used to index coroutines. As a case study, we implemented a core of TLS sufficient for use with popular Web browsers, and our experiments show that the extracted Haskell code achieves reasonable performance.