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Static Extraction of Sound Hierarchical Runtime Object Graphs

Marwan Abi-Antoun and Jonathan Aldrich

The ACM SIGPLAN Workshop on Types in Language Design and Implementation (TLDI 2009)
Savannah, Georgia, USA, Saturday, 24 January, 2009


For many object-oriented systems, it is often useful to have a runtime architecture, that shows a network of communicating objects. But it is hard to statically extract runtime object graphs that provide architectural abstraction from an existing program written in a general purpose language that follows common design idioms.

Previous approaches extract low-level non-hierarchical object graphs that do not provide architectural abstraction, change the language too radically for many existing implementations, or use a dynamic analysis. Static analysis, which takes all possible executions into account, is essential to extract a sound architecture, one that reveals all entities and relations that could possibly exist at runtime.

Ownership domain type annotations specify in code architectural intent related to object encapsulation and communication. We propose a static analysis that leverages such types and extracts a hierarchical approximation of all possible runtime object graphs. The representation provides architectural abstraction, first by ownership hierarchy, and then by types. We proved core soundness results for the technique and evaluated it on 68 KLOC of real code.

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