Hierarchical formal verification combining algebraic transformation with PPRM expansion and its application to masked cryptographic processors

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This paper presents an automatic hierarchical formal verification method for arithmetic circuits over Galois fields (GFs) which are dedicated digital circuits for GF arithmetic operations used in cryptographic processors. The proposed verification method is based on a combination of a word-level computer algebra procedure with a bit-level PPRM (Positive Polarity Reed-Muller) expansion procedure. While the application of the proposed verification method is not limited to cryptographic processors, these processors are our important targets because complicated implementation techniques, such as field conversions, are frequently used for side-channel resistant, compact and low power design. In the proposed method, the correctness of entire datapath is verified over GF(2m) level, or word-level. A datapath implementation is represented hierarchically as a set of components' functional descriptions over GF(2m) and their wiring connections. We verify that the implementation satisfies a given total-functional specification over GF(2m), by using an automatic algebraic method based on the Gröbner basis and a polynomial reduction. Then, in order to verify whether each component circuit is correctly implemented by combination of GF(2) operations, i.e. logic gates in bit-level, we use our fast PPRM expansion procedure which is customized for handling large-scale Boolean expressions with many variables. We have applied the proposed method to a complicated AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) circuit with a masking countermeasure against side-channel attack. The results show that the proposed method can verify such practical circuit automatically within 4 minutes, while any single conventional verification methods fail within a day or even more.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1396-1408
Number of pages13
JournalIEICE Transactions on Fundamentals of Electronics, Communications and Computer Sciences
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jul


  • Arithmetic circuits
  • Cryptographic processors
  • Design methodology for security hardware
  • Formal design
  • Galois field


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