Structural Analysis: Shape Information via Points-To Computation

Mark Marron

This paper introduces a new hybrid memory analysis, Structural Analysis, which combines an expressive shape analysis style abstract domain with efficient and simple points-to style transfer functions. Using data from empirical studies on the runtime heap structures and the programmatic idioms used in modern object-oriented languages we construct a heap analysis with the following characteristics: (1) it can express a rich set of structural, shape, and sharing properties which are not provided by a classic points-to analysis and that are useful for optimization and error detection applications (2) it uses efficient, weakly-updating, set-based transfer functions which enable the analysis to be more robust and scalable than a shape analysis and (3) it can be used as the basis for a scalable interprocedural analysis that produces precise results in practice. The analysis has been implemented for .Net bytecode and using this implementation we evaluate both the runtime cost and the precision of the results on a number of well known benchmarks and real world programs. Our experimental evaluations show that the domain defined in this paper is capable of precisely expressing the majority of the connectivity, shape, and sharing properties that occur in practice and, despite the use of weak updates, the static analysis is able to precisely approximate the ideal results. The analysis is capable of analyzing large real-world programs (over 30K bytecodes) in less than 65 seconds and using less than 130MB of memory. In summary this work presents a new type of memory analysis that advances the state of the art with respect to expressive power, precision, and scalability and represents a new area of study on the relationships between and combination of concepts from shape and points-to analyses.

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