Using Reactive Synthesis:
An End-to-End Exploratory Case Study


Reactive synthesis is an automated procedure to obtain a correct-by-construction reactive system from its temporal logic specification. Despite its attractiveness and major research progress in the past decades, reactive synthesis is still in early-stage and has not gained popularity outside academia.
We conducted an exploratory case study in which we followed students in a semester-long university workshop class on their end-to-end use of a reactive synthesizer, from writing the specifications to executing the synthesized controllers. The data we collected includes more than 500 versions of more than 80 specifications, as well as more than 2500 Slack messages, all written by the class participants. Our grounded theory analysis reveals that the use of reactive synthesis has clear benefits for certain tasks and that adequate specification language constructs assist in the specification writing process. However, inherent issues such as unrealizabilty, non-well-separation, the gap of knowledge between the users and the synthesizer, and considerable running times prevent reactive synthesis from fulfilling its promise. Based on our analysis, we propose action items in the directions of language and specification quality, tools for analysis and execution, and process and methodology, all towards making reactive synthesis more applicable for software engineers.

Dor Ma'ayan and Shahar Maoz, Using Reactive Synthesis: An End-to-End Exploratory Case Study. Proc. of ICSE 2023. To appear.

Supporting materials