Plankton: Scalable network configuration verification through model checking


Santhosh Prabhu, Kuan-Yen Chou, Ali Kheradmand, Brighten Godfrey, and Matthew Caesar, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign


Network configuration verification enables operators to ensure that the network will behave as intended, prior to deployment of their configurations. Although techniques ranging from graph algorithms to SMT solvers have been proposed, scalable configuration verification with sufficient protocol support continues to be a challenge. In this paper, we show that by combining equivalence partitioning with explicit-state model checking, network configuration verification can be scaled significantly better than the state of the art, while still supporting a rich set of protocol features. We propose Plankton, which uses symbolic partitioning to manage large header spaces and efficient model checking to exhaustively explore protocol behavior. Thanks to a highly effective suite of optimizations including state hashing, partial order reduction, and policy-based pruning, Plankton successfully verifies policies in industrial-scale networks quickly and compactly, at times reaching a 10000x speedup compared to the state of the art.

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@inproceedings {246484,
author = {Santhosh Prabhu and Kuan Yen Chou and Ali Kheradmand and Brighten Godfrey and Matthew Caesar},
title = {Plankton: Scalable network configuration verification through model checking },
booktitle = {17th USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation (NSDI 20)},
year = {2020},
isbn = {978-1-939133-13-7},
address = {Santa Clara, CA},
pages = {953--967},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = feb,

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