Section: New Results

A Theoretical Foundation of Sensitivity in an Abstract Interpretation Framework

Participants : Xavier Rival [correspondant] , Sukyoung Ryu, Se-Won Kim.

In [14], we formalize a framework to design static analyses that make use of sensitivity, using the general notion of cardinal power abstraction.

Program analyses often utilize various forms of sensitivity such as context sensitivity, call-site sensitivity, and object sensitivity. These techniques all allow for more precise program analyses, that are able to compute more precise program invariants, and to verify stronger properties. Despite the fact that sensitivity techniques are now part of the standard toolkit of static analyses designers and implementers, no comprehensive frameworks allow the description of all common forms of sensitivity. As a consequence, the soundness proofs of static analysis tools involving sensitivity often rely on ad hoc formalization, which are not always carried out in an abstract interpretation framework. Moreover, this also means that opportunities to identify similarities between analysis techniques to better improve abstractions or to tune static analysis tools can easily be missed.

In this work, we formalize a framework for the description of sensitivity in static analysis. Our framework is based on a powerful abstract domain construction, and utilizes reduced cardinal power to tie basic abstract predicates to the properties analyses are sensitive to. We formalize this abstraction, and the main abstract operations that are needed to turn it into a generic abstract domain construction. We demonstrate that our approach can allow for a more precise description of program states, and that it can also describe a large set of sensitivity techniques, both when sensitivity criteria are static (known before the analysis) or dynamic (inferred as part of the analysis), and sensitive analysis tuning parameters. Last, we show that sensitivity techniques used in state of the art static analysis tools can be described in our framework.