Formal Methods in Dependable Systems Engineering: A Survey of Professionals from Europe and North America

Mario Gleirscher, Diego Marmsoler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Context: Formal methods (FMs) have been around for a while, still being
unclear how to leverage their benefits, overcome their challenges, and set new
directions for their improvement towards a more successful transfer into
practice. Objective: We study the use of formal methods in mission-critical
software domains, examining industrial and academic views. Method: We perform a
cross-sectional on-line survey. Results: Our results indicate an increased
intent to apply FMs in industry, suggesting a positively perceived usefulness.
But the results also indicate a negatively perceived ease of use. Scalability,
skills, and education seem to be among the key challenges to support this
intent. Conclusions: We present the largest study of this kind so far (N =
216), and our observations provide valuable insights, highlighting directions
for future theoretical and empirical research of formal methods. Our findings
are strongly coherent with earlier observations by Austin and Parkin (1993).
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages74
JournalEmpirical Software Engineering
Early online date9 Sept 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Sept 2020

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2020


  • Formal methods
  • Empirical research
  • On-line survey
  • Usage
  • Usefulness
  • Practical challenges
  • Research transfer
  • Software engineering education & training

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