Tutorial: 10:05–11:35 (English)

Runtime Verification with the Copilot Language, A Hands-on Introduction

Systems that have a catastrophic result if they fail (ultra-critical systems) require a very tight safety margin. For example, civil aircraft have a prescribed probability smaller than one in a billion for such catastrophic faults. Additionally, aircraft are highly complex systems. Due to this complexity, and the possibility of hardware failures, classical formal verification techniques are not adequate to achieve such ultra-reliability.

Copilot is a runtime verification language that allows one to write high-level specifications for ultra-critical systems. The system is monitored at runtime to verify if it is still performing according to the specification.

The implementation of Copilot is primarily developed by NASA and consists of a high-level stream-based domain specific language and a collection of libraries providing a range of functions for e.g. different kinds of temporal logic, majority voting and a connection to symbolic verification engines via Galois Inc.’s What4.

This hands-on tutorial gives a short introduction to runtime verification and it’s challenges. Followed by writing specifications for ultra-critical systems using Copilot. We start with the basics of the language and explore monitoring embedded systems.


Although Copilot is based on Haskell, no knowledge of Haskell is required. For the purpose of this tutorial we will use a repository containing exercises and a Docker-based infrastructure to run them. This makes it easy and reliable to participate in the tutorial.

If you are interested, it is highly recommended to execute the following steps prior to attending the tutorial:

  1. Clone the repository at https://github.com/fdedden/bobkonf-2024-copilot-tutorial
  2. Follow the steps in the included INSTALL.md file.

Frank Dedden

Frank is a programmer and researcher with a background in languages and compilers, with a particular interest in applying functional programming concepts to lower-level systems. His past experience includes working on the Copilot runtime verification language at NASA Langley Research Center, and the development of a compiler for a dependently-typed programming language.