a statement accepted as true without proof.

call trace


control flow graph
control flow path

Control flow graphs (short: CFGs) are a program representation that illustrates in which order the program’s instructions are processed during program execution. The nodes in a control flow graph represent single non-branching sequences of commands. The edges in a control flow graph represent the possibility of control passing from the last command of the source node to the first command of the target node. For instance, an if-statement in the program will lead to a branching, i.e., a node with two outgoing edges, in the control flow graph. A CVL rule can be seen as a program with some extra “assert” commands, thus a rule has a CFG like regular programs. The Certora Prover’s TAC reports contain a control flow graph of the TAC intermediate representation of each given CVL rule. The control flow paths are the paths from source to sink in a given CFG. In general (and in practice) the number of control flow paths grows exponentially with the size of the CFG. This is known as the path explosion problem. Further reading: Wikipedia: Control-flow graph Wikipedia: Path explosion problem


The environment of a method call refers to the global variables that solidity provides, including msg, block, and tx. CVL represents these variables in a structure of type env. The environment does not include the contract state or the state of other contracts — these are referred to as the storage.

Ethereum Virtual Machine
EVM bytecode

EVM is short for Ethereum Virtual Machine. EVM bytecode is one of the source languages that the Certora Prover internally can take as input for verification. It is produced by the Solidity and Vyper compilers, among others. For details on what the EVM is and how it works, the following links provide good entry points. Official documentation, Wikipedia

EVM memory
EVM storage

The EVM has two major concepts of memory, called memory and storage. In brief, memory variables keep data only for the duration of a single EVM transaction, while storage variables are stored persistently in the Ethereum blockchain. Official documentation


In some cases, the Certora Prover should assume that some variables can change in an unknown way. For example, an external function on an unknown contract may have an arbitrary effect on the state of a third contract. In this case, we say that the variable was “havoced”. See Havoc summaries: HAVOC_ALL and HAVOC_ECF and Havoc Statements for more details.


A hyperproperty describes a relationship between two hypothetical sequences of operations starting from the same initial state. For example, a statement like “two small deposits will have the same effect as one large deposit” is a hyperproperty. See The storage type for more details.


An invariant (or representation invariant) is a property of the contract state that is expected to hold between invocations of contract methods. See Invariants.

witness example

We use the terms “model” and “example” interchangeably. In the context of a CVL rule, they refer to an assignment of values to all of the CVL variables and contract storage that either violates an assert statement or fulfills a satisfy statement. In the assert case, we also call the model a “counterexample”. In the satisfy case, we also call the model “witness example”. See Overview. In the context of SMT solvers, a model is a valuation of the logical constants and uninterpreted functions in the input formula that makes the formula evaluate to true, also see SAT result.

linear arithmetic
nonlinear arithmetic

An arithmetic expression is called linear if it consists only of additions, subtractions, and multiplications by constant. Division and modulo where the second parameter is a constant are also linear arithmetic. Examples for linear expressions are x * 3, x / 3, 5 * (x + 3 * y). Every arithmetic expression that is not linear is nonlinear. Examples for nonlinear expressions are x * y, x * (1 + y), x * x, 3 / x, 3 ^ x.


Sometimes it is useful to replace a complex piece of code with something simpler that is easier to reason about. If the approximation includes all of the possible behaviors of the original code (and possibly others), it is called an “overapproximation”; if it does not then it is called an “underapproximation”.

Example: A NONDET summary is an overapproximation because every possible value that the original implementation could return is considered by the Certora Prover, while an ALWAYS summary is an underapproximation if the summarized method could return more than one value.

Proofs on overapproximated programs are sound, but there may be spurious counterexamples caused by behavior that the original code did not exhibit. Underapproximations are more dangerous because a property that is successfully verified on the underapproximation may not hold on the approximated code.

parametric rule

A parametric rule is a rule that calls an ambiguous method, either using a method variable, or using an overloaded function name. The Certora Prover will generate a separate report for each possible instantiation of the method. See Parametric rules for more information.

quantified expression

The symbols forall and exist are sometimes referred to as quantifiers, and expressions of the form forall type v . e and exist type v . e are referred to as quantified expressions. See Extended logical operations for details about quantifiers in CVL.

SAT result
UNSAT result

SAT and UNSAT are the results that an SMT solver returns on a successful run (i.e. not a timeout). SAT means that the input formula is satisfiable and a model has been found. UNSAT means that the input formula is unsatisfiable (and thus there is no model for it). Within the Certora Prover, what SAT means depends on the type of rule being checked: For an assert rule, SAT means the rule is violated and the SMT model corresponds to a counterexample. For a satisfy rule, SAT means the rule is not violated and the SMT model corresponds to a witness example. Conversely, UNSAT means that an assert is never violated or a satisfy never fulfilled respectively. See also Overview.


The scene refers to the set of contract instances that the Certora Prover knows about.

SMT solver

“SMT” is short for “Satisfiability Modulo Theories”. An SMT solver takes as input a formula in predicate logic and returns whether the formula is satisfiable (short “SAT”) or unsatisfiable (short: “UNSAT”). The “Modulo Theory” part means that the solver assumes a meaning for certain symbols in the formula. For instance the theory of integer arithmetic stipulates that the symbols +, -, *, etc. have their regular everyday mathematical meaning. When the formula is satisfiable, the SMT solver can also return a model for the formula. I.e. an assignment of the formula’s variables that makes the formula evaluate to “true”. For instance, on the formula “x > 5 /\ x = y * y”, a solver will return SAT, and produce any valuation where x is the square of an integer and larger than 5, and y is the root of x. Further reading: Wikipedia


Soundness means that any rule violations in the code being verified are guaranteed to be reported by the Certora Prover. Unsound approximations such as loop unrolling or certain kinds of harnessing may cause real bugs to be missed by the Prover, and should therefore be used with caution. See Prover Approximations for more details.

split leaf
split leaves

Control flow splitting is a technique to speed up verification by splitting the program into smaller parts and verifying them separately. These smaller programs are called splits. Splits that cannot be split further are called split leaves. See Control flow splitting.


A method summary is a user-provided approximation of the behavior of a contract method. Summaries are useful if the implementation of a method is not available or if the implementation is too complex for the Certora Prover to analyze without timing out. See The Methods Block for complete information on different types of method summaries.


TAC (originally short for “three address code”) is an intermediate representation (Wikipedia) used by the Certora Prover. TAC code is kept invisible to the user most of the time, so its details are not in the scope of this documentation. We provide a working understanding, which is helpful for some advanced proving tasks, in the TAC Reports section.


A tautology is a logical statement that is always true.


A logical statement is vacuous if it is technically true but only because it doesn’t say anything. For example, “every integer that is both greater than 5 and less than 3 is a perfect square” is technically true, but only because there are no numbers that are both greater than 5 and less than 3.

Similarly, a rule or assertion can pass, but only because the require statements rule out all of the models. In this case, the rule doesn’t say anything about the program being verified. The Rule Sanity Checks help detect vacuous rules.

verification condition

The Certora Prover works by translating a program an a specification into a single logical formula that is satisfiable if and only if the program violates the specification. This formula is called a verification condition. Usually, a run of the Certora Prover generates many verification conditions. For instance a verification condition is generated for every parametric rule, and also for each of the sanity checks triggered by --rule_sanity. See also Certora Technology White Paper, Certora User’s Guide.


A methods block entry that explicitly uses _ as a receiver is a wildcard entry; all other entries are called exact entries. See The Methods Block.