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Automatic Predicate Abstraction of C-Programs. T. Ball, R. Majumdar T. Millstein, S. Rajamani. Overview (1). Motivation : Software systems typically infinite state model checking finite state  check an abstraction of a software system Automatic predicate abstraction:

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Automatic Predicate Abstraction of C-Programs

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Automatic predicate abstraction of c programs l.jpg

Automatic Predicate Abstraction of C-Programs

T. Ball, R. Majumdar

T. Millstein, S. Rajamani


Overview 1 l.jpg

Overview (1)

Motivation: Software systems typically infinite state

  • model checking finite state  check an abstraction of a software system

    Automatic predicate abstraction:

  • 1st proposed by Graf & Saidi

  • concrete states mapped to abstract states under a finite set of predicates

  • designed and implemented for

    • finite state systems

    • infinite state systems specified as guarded commands

  • not implemented for a programming language such as C

    The C2BP tool:

  • performs automatic predicate abstraction of C programs

  • given (P, E) BP(P, E) boolean program(P: C program, E: finite set of predicates)


Overview 2 l.jpg

Overview (2)

Boolean program BP(P, E): a C program with bool as single type

  • plus some additional constructs

  • same control structure as P

  • contains only |E| boolean variables, one for each predicate in E

  • e.g. (x<y)  E  {x<y} is a boolean variable for BP(P, E).then: {x<y} is true at program point P  (x<y) is true at P

  • transfer function: automatically for each statement s in P

    • conservatively represents the effect of s on predicates in E

      BEBOP model checker:

  • used to analyze the boolean program

  • performs interprocedural dataflow analysis using binary dicision diagrams (BDDs)


Results from applying c2bp l.jpg

Results from applying C2BP

Pointer manipulating programs: identify invariants involving pointers

  • more precise alias information than with a flow sensitive alias analysis

  • structural properties of the heap preserved by list manipulating code

    Examples on proof-carrying code: to identify loop invariants

    SLAM toolkit: to check safety properties of windows NT device drivers

  • C2BP & BEBOP to statically determine whether or not an assertion violation can take place in C-code

  • demand-driven abstraction-refinement to automatically find new predicates for a particular assertion

  • convergence (undeniability) was not a problem on all Windows NT drivers checked


Challenges of predicate abstraction in c 1 l.jpg

Challenges of predicate abstraction in C (1)

Pointers: two related subproblems treated in a uniform way

  • assignments through dereferenced pointers in original C-program

  • pointers & pointer-dereferences in the predicates for the abstraction

    Procedures: allow procedural abstraction in boolean programs. They also have:

  • global variables

  • procedures with local variables

  • call-by-value parameter passing

  • procedural abstraction – signatures constructed in isolation

    Procedure calls: abstraction process is challenging in the presence of pointers

  • after a call the caller must conservatively update local state modified by procedure

  • sound and precise approach that takes side-effects into account

Make both abstraction and analysis more efficient by exploiting procedural abstraction. recursive proc. e.g. inlining


Challenges of predicate abstraction in c 2 l.jpg

Challenges of predicate abstraction in C (2)

Unknown values: it is not always possible to determine the effect of a statement in the C-program in terms of the input predicate set E

  • such nondeterminism () handled in BP with * (non-determenistic choice) which allows to implicitly express 3-valued domain for boolean variables

    Precision-efficiency tradeoff: computing abstract transfer function for a statement s in the C-program with respect to the set E of predicates may require the use of a theorem prover

  • O(2^|E|) calls to the theorem prover

  • apply optimization techniques to reduce this number


Predicate abstraction overview l.jpg

Predicate abstraction overview

PA Problem: given (P, E) where

  • P is a C-program

  • E = {φ1, …, φn} is a set of pure boolean C-expressions over variables and constants of the C-language

    Compute BP(P, E) which is a boolean program that

  • has some control structure as P

  • contains only boolean variables V = {b1, …, bn} where bi = {φi} represents predicate φi

  • guaranteed to be an abstraction of P (superset of traces modulo …)

    Assumption over a C-program:

  • all interprocedural control flow is by if and goto

  • all expressions are free of side-effects & short-circuit evaluation

  • all expressions do not contain multiple pointer dereferences (e.g. **P)

  • function calls occur at topmost level of expressions


Weakest precondition and cube monoids l.jpg

Weakest precondition and cube (monoids)

Weakest precondition WP(s, φ): {ψ} s {φ}

  • the weakest predicate whose truth before s entails truth of φ after s terminates (if it terminates)

  • assignment: WP(x=e, φ) = φ[e/x] (no side-effects)

    • Example: WP(x=x+1, x<5) = (x<5)[x+1/x] = x+1 < 5 = x<4

  • central to predicate abstraction:p: s andφi Ep’:WP(s, φi) = truebj = {WP(s, φi)}C-codeBP(P, E) code

    • However, no such bj may exist if WP(s, φ)  E

    • Example:E = {(x<5), (x=2)}WP(x=x+1, x<5) = x <4  E strengthen the predicate by using DP x=2  x<4use x=2 instead

p: if (bj) then bi = truep‘:


Strengthening and weakening l.jpg

Strengthening and weakening

Cube over V: a conjunction ci1 …  cikwhere ci1 {bij, bij} for bij V

Concretization function ε: ε(bi) = φi, ε(bi) = φi

  • extend ε over disjunction of cubes in natural way

    Predicate Fv(φ): largest disjunction of cubes c over V so that ε(c)  φ

  • Fv(φ) = { Vci | ci cubes_over(V)  ε(ci)  φ}

    Strengthening of φ: ε(Fv(φ))

  • weakest predicate over ε(V) that implies φ

  • Example:ε(Fv(x<4)) = (x=2)

    Weakening of φ: ε(Gv(φ)) where Gv(φ) = Fv(φ)

  • ε(Gv(φ)) is the strongest predicate over ε(V) implied by φ

    Theorem prover: for each cube, check implication  decision procedure

  • Simplify & Vampyre: equational (Nelson-Oppen) style provers


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