Safety, Revisited -- Lucian Radu Teodorescu

logo.pngLast year saw a proliferation of talks and articles about safety in C++. Lucian Radu Teodorescu gives an overview of these and presents a unified perspective on safety.

Safety, Revisited

by Lucian Radu Teodorescu

From the article:

In his presentation at C++ now [Parent23a], Sean Parent presents the reasons why it’s important to discuss safety in the C++ world, tries to define safety, argues that the C++ model needs to improve to achieve safety, and looks at a possible future of software development. This same talk was later delivered as a keynote at C++ on Sea [Parent23b].

Sean argues the importance of safety by surveying a few recent US and EU reports which have begun to recognise safety as a major concern [NSA22CR23WH23aEC22]. There are a few takeaways from these reports. Firstly, they identify memory safety as a paramount issue. The NSA report [NSA22], for instance, cites a Microsoft study noting that “70 percent of their vulnerabilities were due to memory safety issues”. Secondly, they highlight the inherent safety risks in C and C++ languages, advocating for the adoption of memory-safe languages. Lastly, these documents suggest a paradigm shift in liability towards software vendors. Under this framework, vendors may face accountability for damages resulting from safety lapses in their software.

Building on the reports that underscore the significance of safety, Sean delves into deciphering the meaning of ‘safety’ in the context of software development. After evaluating several inadequate definitions, he adopts a framework conceptualised by Leslie Lamport [Lamport77]. The idea is to express ...


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