A symbolic analysis framework for static analysis of imperative programming languages

Bernd Burgstaller, Bernhard Scholz, Johann Blieberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


We present a generic symbolic analysis framework for imperative programming languages. Our framework is capable of computing all valid variable bindings of a program at given program points. This information is invaluable for domain-specific static program analyses such as memory leak detection, program parallelization, and the detection of superfluous bound checks, variable aliases and task deadlocks. We employ path expression algebra to model the control flow information of programs. A homomorphism maps path expressions into the symbolic domain. At the center of the symbolic domain is a compact algebraic structure called supercontext. A supercontext contains the complete control and data flow analysis information valid at a given program point. Our approach to compute supercontexts is based purely on algebra and is fully automated. This novel representation of program semantics closes the gap between program analysis and computer algebra systems, which makes supercontexts an ideal symbolic intermediate representation for all domain-specific static program analyses. Our approach is more general than existing methods because it can derive solutions for arbitrary (even intra-loop and nested loop) nodes of reducible and irreducible control flow graphs. We prove the correctness of our symbolic analysis method. Our experimental results show that the problem sizes arising from real-world applications such as the SPEC95 benchmark suite are tractable for our symbolic analysis framework.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1418-1439
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Systems and Software
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jun

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research partially supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korea government (MEST) under grant No. 2010-0005234, and the OKAWA Foundation Research Grant (2009). Research partially supported by the Australian Research Council through ARC DP grants DP1096445 and DP0560190. Appendix A

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Information Systems
  • Hardware and Architecture


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