Science of Computer Programming – Projected Control Graph for Computing Relevant Program Behaviors


Many software engineering tasks require analysis and verification of all behaviors relevant to the task. For example, all relevant behaviors must be analyzed to verify a safety or security property. An efficient algorithm must compute the relevant behaviors directly without computing all the behaviors. This is crucial in practice because it is computationally intractable if one were to compute all behaviors to find the subset of relevant behaviors.

We present a mathematical foundation to define relevant behaviors and introduce the Projected Control Graph (PCG) as an abstraction to directly compute the relevant behaviors. We developed a PCG toolbox to facilitate the use of the PCG for program comprehension, analysis, and verification. The toolbox provides: (1) an interactive visual analysis mechanism, and (2) APIs to construct and use PCGs in automated analyses. The toolbox is designed to support multiple programming languages.

Using the toolbox APIs, we conducted a verification case study of the Linux kernel to assess the practical benefits of using the PCG. The study shows that the PCG-based verification is faster and can verify 99% of 66,609 instances compared to the 66% instances verified by the formal verification tool used by the Linux Driver Verification (LDV) organization. This study has revealed bugs missed by the formal verification tool. The second case study is an interactive use of the PCG Smart View to detect side-channel vulnerabilities in Java bytecode.

Journal: Science of Computer Programming Volume 163, 1 October 2018, Pages 93-114

Authors: Ahmed Tamrawi, Suresh Kothari

Paper (PDF): PCFG-ASPEC-Journal.pdf

Categories: Papers

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