Overall Objectives
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New Results
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Section: New Results

Analyzing C Programs with Arrays

Participants : Laure Gonnord, David Monniaux [CNRS/VERIMAG] .

Automatically verifying safety properties of programs is hard, and it is even harder if the program acts upon arrays or other forms of maps. Many approaches exist for verifying programs operating upon Boolean and integer values (e.g., abstract interpretation, counter-examples guided abstraction refinement using interpolants), but transposing them to array properties has been fraught with difficulties.

In contrast to most preceding approaches, we do not introduce a new abstract domain or a new interpolation procedure for arrays. Instead, we generate an abstraction as a scalar problem and feed it to a preexisting solver. The intuition is that if there is a proof of safety of the program, it is likely that it can be expressed by elementary steps between properties involving only a small (tunable) number N of cells from the array.

Our transformed problem is expressed using Horn clauses over scalar variables, a common format with clear and unambiguous logical semantics, for which there exist several solvers. In contrast, solvers directly operating over Horn clauses with arrays are still very immature.

An important characteristic of our encoding is that it creates a non-linear Horn problem, with tree unfoldings, contrary to the linear problems obtained by flatly encoding the control-graph structure. Our encoding thus cannot be expressed by encoding into another control-flow graph problem, and truly leverages the Horn clause format.

Experiments with our prototype VAPHOR (see Section  6.9 ) show that this approach can prove automatically the functional correctness of several classical examples of the literature, including selection sort, bubble sort, insertion sort, as well as examples from previous articles on array analysis.

This work is presented in a research report [28] and is currently under submission.