Rust Implementation of Knuth's Dancing Links: Conclusion, Acknowledgments, and Referencesby@gitflow
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Rust Implementation of Knuth's Dancing Links: Conclusion, Acknowledgments, and References

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In this paper, researchers describe an implementation of the Dancing Links optimization in the Rust programming language.
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(1) David S. Hardin, Cedar Rapids, IA USA [email protected].

8 Conclusion

We have developed a prototype toolchain to allow the Rust programming language to be used as a hardware/software co-design and co-assurance language for critical systems, standing on the shoulders of Russinoff’s team at Arm, and all the great work they have done on Restricted Algorithmic C. We have demonstrated the ability to establish the correctness of several practical data structures commonly found in high-assurance systems (e.g., array-backed singly-linked lists, doubly-linked lists, stacks, and dequeues) through automated formal verification, enabled by automated source-to-source translation from Rust to RAC to ACL2, and have detailed the specification and verification of one such data structure, a circular doubly-linked list employing Knuth’s “Dancing Links” optimization. We have also successfully applied our toolchain to cryptography and data format filtering examples typical of the sorts of algorithms that one encounters in critical systems development.

In future work, we will continue to develop our toolchain, increasing the number of Rust features that we can support in the RAR subset, as well as continuing to improve the ACL2 verification libraries in order to increase the ability to discharge RAR correctness proofs automatically. We will also continue to work with our colleagues at Kansas State University on the direct synthesis and verification of RAR code from architectural models, as well as working with colleagues at the University of Kansas on verified synthesis of Rust code from high-level attestation protocol specifications written using the Coq theorem prover.

9 Acknowledgments

Many thanks to Donald Knuth for his detailed study of exact cover problems in general, and the “Dancing Links” optimization in particular, that can now be found in Volume 4B of his seminal series, The Art of Computer Programming. It was a pleasure discovering this particular corner of Computer Science, beginning when the author accidentally stumbled upon a previously recorded Knuth “Christmas Lecture” on the subject in late 2022.

Previous foundational work on hardware/software co-assurance in Rust was funded by DARPA contract HR00111890001. The views, opinions and/or findings expressed are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the official views or policies of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.

Many thanks to David Russinoff of Arm for developing and improving the RAC toolchain, without which most of the current work would not be possible. Thanks also go to the anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments.


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