Section: New Results

A theory of safe optimisations in the C11/C++11 memory model and applications to compiler testing

Participants : Francesco Zappa Nardelli [contact] , Robin Morisset, Pankaj Pawan.

Compilers sometimes generate correct sequential code but break the concurrency memory model of the programming language: these subtle compiler bugs are observable only when the miscompiled functions interact with concurrent contexts, making them particularly hard to detect. In this work we design a strategy to reduce the hard problem of hunting concurrency compiler bugs to differential testing of sequential code and build a tool that puts this strategy to work. Our first contribution is a theory of sound optimisations in the C11/C++11 memory model, covering most of the optimisations we have observed in real compilers and validating the claim that common compiler optisations are sound in the C11/C++11 memory model. Our second contribution is to show how, building on this theory, concurrency compiler bugs can be identified by comparing the memory trace of compiled code against a reference memory trace for the source code. Our tool identified several mistaken write introductions and other unexpected behaviours in the latest release of the gcc compiler.

A paper on this work has been submitted to an international conference [15] .