MemCAD, A Modular Abstract Domain for Reasoning on Memory States


July 23, 2012


Xavier Rival


Ecole Normale Supérieure


In this talk, we will present the MemCAD analyzer, which relies on a parametric abstract domain for the static analysis by abstract interpretation of programs which manipulate complex and dynamically allocated data-structures. We will set up the foundations for a family of static analyses to compute an over-approximation of the reachable states of programs using such structures, using modular abstractions, which can be adapted to wide families of programs.

Our domain can be parameterized with a set of inductive definitions capturing a set of relevant data-structures and by the choice of an underlying numerical domain. Abstract values can be viewed either as graphs, or as formulas in a subset of separation logic extended with inductive definitions. We will describe the abstraction induced by this domain, and the main static analysis operators. In particular, we will consider the unfolding operator, which allows to refine in a local manner an abstract value, so as to allow precise algorithms for the computation of post-conditions. Then, we will discuss a set of join and widening operators, so as to guarantee the termination of our static analyses.

In the second part of the talk, we will consider several applications of our static analysis. We will show how it can be adapted in order to treat in a precise way specific features of programs written in languages which allow low level memory operations, such as the C language. Then, we will focus on the analysis of programs with recursive procedures and we will introduce a powerful widening operator, which is able to infer accurate inductive definitions to be used to summarize the call-stack of a specific program together with the memory.

Finally, the last part of this talk will focus on recent work to extend the analysis to embedded softwares, which use a custom allocation inside static blocks, and manages their own dynamic structures inside this scope. The reason for this programming pattern is that dynamic memory allocation should not be used in highly critical avionic softwares. It brings new issues for the verification of software by static analysis, which can be addressed using our modular abstraction.


Xavier Rival

Xavier Rival is Researcher at INRIA since 2007, and is part of the Abstraction Project Team, located at Ecole Normale Supérieure, in Paris.
He defended his PhD in 2005 under the supervision of Patrick Cousot, and then joined Berkeley University as a Post-Doc. His research interest include abstract interpretation, shape analysis and the verification of safety critical embedded software. He has been part of the Astrée analyzer’s team since its creation in 2001. He currently works mainly on the design of symbolic abstract domains for the verification of programs manipulating complex data-structures, using abstract interpretation techniques.