Tag Archives: Collaborative effort

SMT Competition’14 and STP

The 2014 SMT competition‘s QF_BV divison is over (benchmark tarball here), and the results are (copied from here):

Solver Errors Solved Not Solved CPU time (solved instances)
Boolector 0 2361 127 138077.59
STP-CryptoMiniSat4 0 2283 205 190660.82
[MathSAT] 0 2199 289 262349.39
[Z3] 0 2180 308 214087.66
CVC4 0 2166 322 87954.62
4Simp 0 2121 367 187966.86
SONOLAR 0 2026 462 174134.49
Yices2 0 1770 718 159991.55
abziz_min_features 9 2155 324 134385.22
abziz_all_features 9 2093 386 122540.04

First, let me congratulate Boolector by Armin Biere. STP came a not-so-close second. STP was meant to be submitted twice, once with MiniSat and once with CyrptoMiniSat4 — this is the only reason why the STP submission is called STP-CryptoMiniSat4. Unfortunately, the other submission could not be made because of some compilation problems.

About the results

There are a couple of things I would like to draw your attention to. First is the cumulated solving time of solved instances. Note how it decreases compared to MathSat and Z3. Note also the differences in the DIFF of the number of solved instances. It’s relatively small between 4Simp…MathSat(<40) and increases dramatically with STP and Boolector (with around 80 each). Another thing of interest is that STP is surrounded by commercial products: Boolector, Z3 and MathSAT are all products you have to pay for to use in a commercial setting. In contrast, the biggest issue with STP is that if the optional(!) CryptoMiniSat4 is linked in, it's LGPLv2 instead of MIT licensed. In other words, a lot of effort is in there, and it's all free. Sometimes free as in beer, sometimes free as in freedom.

About STP

Lately, a lot of work has been done on STP. If you look a the github repository, it has about 80 issues resolved, about 40 open, lots of pull requests, and a lot of commits. A group of people, namely (in nickname order): Dan Liew, Vijay Ganesh, Khoo Yit Phang, Ryan Govostes, Trevor Hansen, a lot of external contributors (e.g. Stephen McCamant) and myself have been working on it pretty intensively. It now has a an automated test facility and a robust build system besides all the code cleanup and other improvements.

It’s a great team and I’m happy to be a minor part of it. If you feel like you could contribute, don’t hesitate to fork the repo, make some changes, and ask for a pull request. The discussions on the pull requests can be pretty elaborate which makes for a nice learning experience for all involved. Come and join — next year hopefully we’ll win :)

CryptoMiniSat 4 released

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CryptoMiniSat 4 is now available for download. This version brings a number of substantial improvements and picks up speed to be as good as the best solvers out there. It now has a much improved library interface as well as a simple but powerful python interface.

SAT Competition 2014

This release is made ahead of the SAT competition 2014 deadlines so anybody can compete and actually have a chance to win. Unfortunately, the way I see it, it’s not possible to use newer versions of lingeling or riss (see license for for details), MiniSat is rather old and glucose doesn’t have new simplification techniques. If you feel the same way, and you rather not write 30K LoC of code, you might enjoy playing with CryptoMiniSat v4 and submitting it to the competition. You can change as much as you like, it’s LGPLv2 — just don’t call it CryptoMiniSat.

Improvements and techniques

Here is a non-exhaustive list of techniques used in CryptoMiniSat v4:

  • Variable elimination and replacement, strengthening, subsumption, vivification
  • On-the-fly stamping, literal caching, hyper-binary resolution and transitive reduction during failed literal probing
  • Bounded variable addition with hack to allow 2-literal diff
  • DRUP-based unsatisfiable proof logging
  • Gate-based clause shortening and removal
  • XOR recovery and manipulation (NOTE: uses the M4RI library that is GPL, if you want LGPL, compile without it)
  • Precise time- and memory tracking. No time or memory-outs on weird CNFs
  • Precise usefulness tracking of all clauses
  • Clause usefulness-based redundant clause removal. Glues are not used by default, but glues are tracked and can be used (command line option)
  • Variable renumbering and variable number hiding. Thanks to this, XOR clauses are cut and the added variables are transparent to the user.
  • SQL-based data logging and AJAX-based powerful data display
  • And of course many-many more

All of the above are implemented as inprocessing techniques. I do not believe in preprocessing and the solver does not in fact use preprocessing at all — it immediately starts to solve instead. This, as everything else, is configurable and you can change it by passing '--presimp 1' as a command-line option. There are a total of 120 command-line options so you can tune the solver as you like.

Python interface

It’s intuitive and fun to use:

You can even have assumptions:

All the power of the SAT solver in a very accessible manner. XOR clauses are trivial, too:

Where the second argument is the right hand side (RHS) of the equation v1 XOR v2 = False.

C++ interface

Usage is pretty simple, and the header files have been significantly cleaned up:

Some suggestions where you can improve the solver to compete

Here is a non-exhaustive list of things that you can improve to win at the competition:

  • Add your own weird idea. You can add new variables if you like, use the occurrence lists already built, and take advantage of all the datastructures (such as stamps, literal cache) already present.
  • Tune the parameters. I only have exactly one i7-4770 to tune the parameters. You might have more. All parameters are accessible from command line, so tuning should be trivial.
  • Use glues to clean clauses. Or use a combination of glues and usefulness metrics. All the metrics are at your fingertips.
  • Make bounded variable addition work for learnt clauses. I could never figure this one out.
  • Improve the ordering of variable elimination. Makes a huge difference.
  • Try a different approach: I use the ‘heavy’ approach where I don’t remove all clauses that I can as I like strong propagation properties. You might try the ‘light’ approach where everything is removed if possible. Just set variable elimination to 100% and add blocked clause elimination. It might work.

For example, below is the code that calculates which clause should be cleaned or kept. You can clearly see how easily this can be changed using the data elements below:

If you were thinking about submitting your weird hack to the MiniSat hacktrack, think about doing the same to CrytoMiniSat v4. You might actually win the real competition. You can change as much as you like.

I will submit a description of CryptoMiniSat v4, your description can simply say that it’s the same except for xyz that you changed. The point of the descriptions is so that people can read what you did and why and then comprehend the results in that light. Just explain carefully what you did and why, and you should be fine.


Many-many thanks to Martin Maurer who has submitted over 100 bug reports through the GitHub issue system. Kudos to all who have helped me use, debug and improve the solver. To name just a few: Vegard Nossum, Martin Albrecht, Karsten Nohl, Luca Melette, Vijay Ganesh and Robert Aston.

Thoughts on SAT@home

If you have ever wondered how your multi-month SAT problem could be solved, the answer is here: SAT@home by some kind Russian researchers! This idea has been brewing in my head, we even started a mini-project with a  friendly American researcher, but we never got it into a working condition :(. It’s great that someone took the time to do it, though. Creating such a setup has some easier and harder parts. Setting up a BOINC server is not that hard, but it needs to run 24/7, which is difficult, unless you are department head at a university or you have a company behind you. Then the scripts need to be written, which is relatively easy to do, but testing and debugging is time-consuming. The really hard part, though, is how to distribute the workload. Treatises could be written on that, and the one above uses the simplest method, that of cutting up the problem along a couple of variables. It’s a good start, I think: starting easy is always the best way to start — the first automobile didn’t try to achieve 300km/h speeds, and it didn’t have to.

In the long run, I guess the setups will get more and more complicated, combining many techniques from cutting on variables, to clause sharing with a multitude of clause usefulness heuristics, to sharing parameter usefulness statistics. Workshares themselves could eventually be diversified, some doing ‘simple’ search without resolution, some doing only resolution (and clause cleaning?), some doing only (specific) simplification algorithms such as subsumption or strengthening, some doing data analysis on the current state of the problem such as reachability analysis, number of gates or other higher-level elements such as adders in the problem, etc. In other words, there are many ways to improve this. Maybe even a common interface to such a system could be laid down where different SAT solvers could be plugged in and used without notice.

A friend of mine has once written me a mail describing his work, which essentially talks about paying for a webpage not by looking at adverts, but by running a javascript program. The idea is, of course, that we could write a SAT solver in javascript, and make people run the script by putting it on a well-visited webpage. The server would then distribute SAT problems to the javascripts, which would send some computed data back (like learnt clauses), while the person is surfing the page. Cheap (maybe even free) and essentially unlimited CPU time for hard problems. We could use it to answer some fun math questions, or break some cryptographic systems, for example… just have to find someone crazy enough to write a SAT solver in javascript! :)

CCC Camp’11

In case you’ve missed it, the CCC Camp was a great opportunity to meet people both working in security and otherwise. I have even met a very kind Taiwanese researcher who worked on SAT and Gröbner basis: in fact, if you haven’t had the chance to read this paper, I highly recommend it. A set of kind Taiwanese researchers recommended this paper to me, and I think it’s the most interesting SAT paper I have read in the past year.

We at SRLabs have made two releases during this camp, one that breaks GPRS encryption, and one that breaks smart card ROM encryption. I was involved with the first release, essentially working on the crypto part. In case you are interested in the videos, the one on GPRS is uploaded here, and the one on smart card ROM encryption is here. This reminds me of something: the videos from the MIT SAT/SMT Summer School are missing :( Well, given my fail there, maybe that’s a good thing :)

CryptoMiniSat won two gold medals at SAT Comp’11

(Note: the judges made a small mistake, and CryptoMiniSat only won 1 gold and 1 silver medal. Details below.)

CryptoMiniSat‘s SAT Competition’11 version, “Strange Night” won two gold medals at the competition: one shared with lingeling at the parallel SAT+UNSAT Applications track, and one at the parallel UNSAT Applications track. This is a great result, and I would like to thank everyone who helped me and the solver achieve this result: my fiancée, my current employer, Security Research Labs and Karsten Nohl in particular, who started the whole CryptoMiniSat saga, my former employer, INRIA Rhone-Alpes and in particular Claude Castelluccia, and finally, all the kind people at the development mailing list. Without the help of all these people, CryptoMiniSat would probably never exist in the first place, much less win such distinguished awards.

The competition was very though this year, and so it is particularly good that we have managed to win two gold medals. The most gold medals were won by the portifolio solver ppfolio, winning 5 gold medals — all other solvers won at most 2 gold medals. CryptoMiniSat did very well in the parallel applications track, basically winning all gold medals that ppfolio didn’t win — and ppfolio was using an older version of CryptoMiniSat as one of its internal engines, essentially making CryptoMiniSat compete with itself (and other strong solvers such as lingeling and clasp). Unfortunately, CryptoMiniSat didn’t win any awards at the sequential applications track, as most awards there were won by very new solvers such as Glucose ver 2 and GlueMiniSat. The source code and PDF description of these solvers are not yet available, but they will be shortly at the SAT Competition website.

Overall, I think CryptoMiniSat did very well, considering that I was not very optimistic given the fact that I didn’t manage to finish the new generation (3.x) of the solver, and had to submit a variant of the very old CryptoMiniSat 2.7.0. Furthermore, in the past year I have been concentrating on ideas external to the clause learning of SAT solvers, and it seems that the best way to speed up SAT solvers is to attack the core of the solver: the learning engine. So, this year will be about cleaning up all the external ideas and implementing new ones into the core of the solver.

Once again, thanks to everyone who helped CryptoMiniSat get such high rankings, and I am looking forward to the next year for a similarly good competition!

Edited to add (29/06):  The judges just informed me that they made a mistake, and the originally presented results were erroneous. CryptoMiniSat won 1 gold and 1 siver, as lingeling was faster by about 7% in speed in the parallel SAT+UNSAT track. Congratulations to Armin Biere for winning this track!