Team, Visitors, External Collaborators
Overall Objectives
Research Program
Application Domains
Highlights of the Year
New Software and Platforms
New Results
Bilateral Contracts and Grants with Industry
Partnerships and Cooperations
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Section: Research Program

Research direction: Tools for improving legacy infrastructure software

A cornerstone of our work on legacy infrastructure software is the Coccinelle program matching and transformation tool for C code. Coccinelle has been in continuous development since 2005. Today, Coccinelle is extensively used in the context of Linux kernel development, as well as in the development of other software, such as wine, python, kvm, and systemd. Currently, Coccinelle is a mature software project, and no research is being conducted on Coccinelle itself. Instead, we leverage Coccinelle in other research projects  [28], [29], [64], [66], [70], [72], [74], [59], [54], both for code exploration, to better understand at a large scale problems in Linux development, and as an essential component in tools that require program matching and transformation. The continuing development and use of Coccinelle is also a source of visibility in the Linux kernel developer community. We submitted the first patches to the Linux kernel based on Coccinelle in 2007. Since then, over 5500 patches have been accepted into the Linux kernel based on the use of Coccinelle, including around 3000 by over 500 developers from outside our research group.

Our recent work has focused on driver porting. Specifically, we have considered the problem of porting a Linux device driver across versions, particularly backporting, in which a modern driver needs to be used by a client who, typically for reasons of stability, is not able to update their Linux kernel to the most recent version. When multiple drivers need to be backported, they typically need many common changes, suggesting that Coccinelle could be applicable. Using Coccinelle, however, requires writing backporting transformation rules. In order to more fully automate the backporting (or symmetrically forward porting) process, these rules should be generated automatically. We have carried out a preliminary study in this direction with David Lo of Singapore Management University; this work, published at ICSME 2016 [77], is limited to a port from one version to the next one, in the case where the amount of change required is limited to a single line of code. Whisper has been awarded an ANR PRCI grant to collaborate with the group of David Lo on scaling up the rule inference process and proposing a fully automatic porting solution.