Panagiotis (Pete) Manolios
College of Computer and Information Science
Northeastern University

A posteriori soundness for non-deterministic abstract interpretations

Matthew Might and Panagiotis Manolios. VMCAI 2009: Tenth International Conference on Verification, Model Checking, and Abstract Interpretation, © Springer Verlag


An abstract interpretation's resource-allocation policy (e.g., one heap summary node per allocation site) largely determines both its speed and precision. Historically, context has driven allocation policies, and as a result, these policies are said to determine the "context-sensitivity" of the analysis. This work gives analysis designers newfound freedom to manipulate speed and precision by severing the link between allocation policy and context-sensitivity: abstract allocation policies may be unhinged not only from context, but also from even a predefined correspondence with a concrete allocation policy. We do so by proving that abstract allocation policies can be made non-deterministic without sacrificing correctness; this non-determinism permits precision-guided allocation policies previously assumed to be unsafe. To prove correctness, we introduce the notion of a posteriori soundness for an analysis. A proof of a posteriori soundness differs from a standard proof of soundness in that the abstraction maps used in an a posteriori proof cannot be constructed until after an analysis has been run. Delaying construction allows them to be built so as to justify the decisions made by non-determinism. The crux of the a posteriori soundness theorem is to demonstrate that a justifying abstraction map can always be constructed.

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