System design of stochastic models using robustness of temporal properties

Ezio Bartocci, Luca Bortolussi, Laura Nenzi, Guido Sanguinetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Stochastic models such as Continuous-Time Markov Chains (CTMC) and Stochastic Hybrid Automata (SHA) are powerful formalisms to model and to reason about the dynamics of biological systems, due to their ability to capture the stochasticity inherent in biological processes. A classical question in formal modelling with clear relevance to biological modelling is the model checking problem, i.e. calculate the probability that a behaviour, expressed for instance in terms of a certain temporal logic formula, may occur in a given stochastic process. However, one may not only be interested in the notion of satisfiability, but also in the capacity of a system to maintain a particular emergent behaviour unaffected by the perturbations, caused e.g. from extrinsic noise, or by possible small changes in the model parameters. To address this issue, researchers from the verification community have recently proposed several notions of robustness for temporal logic providing suitable definitions of distance between a trajectory of a (deterministic) dynamical system and the boundaries of the set of trajectories satisfying the property of interest. The contributions of this paper are twofold. First, we extend the notion of robustness to stochastic systems, showing that this naturally leads to a distribution of robustness degrees. By discussing three examples, we show how to approximate the distribution of the robustness degree and the average robustness. Secondly, we show how to exploit this notion to address the system design problem, where the goal is to optimise some control parameters of a stochastic model in order to maximise robustness of the desired specifications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-25
Number of pages23
JournalTheoretical Computer Science
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2015


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