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author Shinji KONO <>
date Mon, 25 May 2020 18:13:55 +0900
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@c Copyright (C) 2019 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
@c This is part of the GCC manual.
@c For copying conditions, see the file gcc.texi.
@c Contributed by David Malcolm <>.

@node Static Analyzer
@chapter Static Analyzer
@cindex analyzer
@cindex static analysis
@cindex static analyzer

* Analyzer Internals::       Analyzer Internals
* Debugging the Analyzer::   Useful debugging tips
@end menu

@node Analyzer Internals
@section Analyzer Internals
@cindex analyzer, internals
@cindex static analyzer, internals

@subsection Overview

The analyzer implementation works on the gimple-SSA representation.
(I chose this in the hopes of making it easy to work with LTO to
do whole-program analysis).

The implementation is read-only: it doesn't attempt to change anything,
just emit warnings.

The gimple representation can be seen using @option{-fdump-ipa-analyzer}.

First, we build a @code{supergraph} which combines the callgraph and all
of the CFGs into a single directed graph, with both interprocedural and
intraprocedural edges.  The nodes and edges in the supergraph are called
``supernodes'' and ``superedges'', and often referred to in code as
@code{snodes} and @code{sedges}.  Basic blocks in the CFGs are split at
interprocedural calls, so there can be more than one supernode per
basic block.  Most statements will be in just one supernode, but a call
statement can appear in two supernodes: at the end of one for the call,
and again at the start of another for the return.

The supergraph can be seen using @option{-fdump-analyzer-supergraph}.

We then build an @code{analysis_plan} which walks the callgraph to
determine which calls might be suitable for being summarized (rather
than fully explored) and thus in what order to explore the functions.

Next is the heart of the analyzer: we use a worklist to explore state
within the supergraph, building an "exploded graph".
Nodes in the exploded graph correspond to <point,@w{ }state> pairs, as in
     "Precise Interprocedural Dataflow Analysis via Graph Reachability"
     (Thomas Reps, Susan Horwitz and Mooly Sagiv).

We reuse nodes for <point, state> pairs we've already seen, and avoid
tracking state too closely, so that (hopefully) we rapidly converge
on a final exploded graph, and terminate the analysis.  We also bail
out if the number of exploded <end-of-basic-block, state> nodes gets
larger than a particular multiple of the total number of basic blocks
(to ensure termination in the face of pathological state-explosion
cases, or bugs).  We also stop exploring a point once we hit a limit
of states for that point.

We can identify problems directly when processing a <point,@w{ }state>
instance.  For example, if we're finding the successors of

   <point: before-stmt: "free (ptr);",
    state: @{"ptr": freed@}>
@end smallexample

then we can detect a double-free of "ptr".  We can then emit a path
to reach the problem by finding the simplest route through the graph.

Program points in the analysis are much more fine-grained than in the
CFG and supergraph, with points (and thus potentially exploded nodes)
for various events, including before individual statements.
By default the exploded graph merges multiple consecutive statements
in a supernode into one exploded edge to minimize the size of the
exploded graph.  This can be suppressed via
The fine-grained approach seems to make things simpler and more debuggable
that other approaches I tried, in that each point is responsible for one

Program points in the analysis also have a "call string" identifying the
stack of callsites below them, so that paths in the exploded graph
correspond to interprocedurally valid paths: we always return to the
correct call site, propagating state information accordingly.
We avoid infinite recursion by stopping the analysis if a callsite
appears more than @code{analyzer-max-recursion-depth} in a callstring
(defaulting to 2).

@subsection Graphs

Nodes and edges in the exploded graph are called ``exploded nodes'' and
``exploded edges'' and often referred to in the code as
@code{enodes} and @code{eedges} (especially when distinguishing them
from the @code{snodes} and @code{sedges} in the supergraph).

Each graph numbers its nodes, giving unique identifiers - supernodes
are referred to throughout dumps in the form @samp{SN': @var{index}} and
exploded nodes in the form @samp{EN: @var{index}} (e.g. @samp{SN: 2} and

The supergraph can be seen using @option{-fdump-analyzer-supergraph-graph}.

The exploded graph can be seen using @option{-fdump-analyzer-exploded-graph}
and other dump options.  Exploded nodes are color-coded in the .dot output
based on state-machine states to make it easier to see state changes at
a glance.

@subsection State Tracking

There's a tension between:
@itemize @bullet
precision of analysis in the straight-line case, vs
exponential blow-up in the face of control flow.
@end itemize

For example, in general, given this CFG:

     / \
    B   C
     \ /
     / \
    E   F
     \ /
@end smallexample

we want to avoid differences in state-tracking in B and C from
leading to blow-up.  If we don't prevent state blowup, we end up
with exponential growth of the exploded graph like this:


          /   \
         /     \
        /       \
      2:B       3:C
       |         |
      4:D       5:D        (2 exploded nodes for D)
     /   \     /   \
   6:E   7:F 8:E   9:F
    |     |   |     |
   10:G 11:G 12:G  13:G    (4 exploded nodes for G)

@end smallexample

Similar issues arise with loops.

To prevent this, we follow various approaches:

@enumerate a
state pruning: which tries to discard state that won't be relevant
later on withing the function.
This can be disabled via @option{-fno-analyzer-state-purge}.

state merging.  We can try to find the commonality between two
program_state instances to make a third, simpler program_state.
We have two strategies here:

     the worklist keeps new nodes for the same program_point together,
     and tries to merge them before processing, and thus before they have
     successors.  Hence, in the above, the two nodes for D (4 and 5) reach
     the front of the worklist together, and we create a node for D with
     the merger of the incoming states.

     try merging with the state of existing enodes for the program_point
     (which may have already been explored).  There will be duplication,
     but only one set of duplication; subsequent duplicates are more likely
     to hit the cache.  In particular, (hopefully) all merger chains are
     finite, and so we guarantee termination.
     This is intended to help with loops: we ought to explore the first
     iteration, and then have a "subsequent iterations" exploration,
     which uses a state merged from that of the first, to be more abstract.
  @end enumerate

We avoid merging pairs of states that have state-machine differences,
as these are the kinds of differences that are likely to be most
interesting.  So, for example, given:

      if (condition)
        ptr = malloc (size);
        ptr = local_buf;

      .... do things with 'ptr'

      if (condition)
        free (ptr);

@end smallexample

then we end up with an exploded graph that looks like this:


                   if (condition)
                     / T      \ F
            ---------          ----------
           /                             \
      ptr = malloc (size)             ptr = local_buf
          |                               |
      copy of                         copy of
        "do things with 'ptr'"          "do things with 'ptr'"
      with ptr: heap-allocated        with ptr: stack-allocated
          |                               |
      if (condition)                  if (condition)
          | known to be T                 | known to be F
      free (ptr);                         |
           \                             /
                         | ('ptr' is pruned, so states can be merged)

@end smallexample

where some duplication has occurred, but only for the places where the
the different paths are worth exploringly separately.

Merging can be disabled via @option{-fno-analyzer-state-merge}.
@end enumerate

@subsection Region Model

Part of the state stored at a @code{exploded_node} is a @code{region_model}.
This is an implementation of the region-based ternary model described in
"A Memory Model for Static Analysis of C Programs"}
(Zhongxing Xu, Ted Kremenek, and Jian Zhang).

A @code{region_model} encapsulates a representation of the state of
memory, with a tree of @code{region} instances, along with their associated
values.  The representation is graph-like because values can be pointers
to regions.  It also stores a constraint_manager, capturing relationships
between the values.

Because each node in the @code{exploded_graph} has a @code{region_model},
and each of the latter is graph-like, the @code{exploded_graph} is in some
ways a graph of graphs.

Here's an example of printing a @code{region_model}, showing the ASCII-art
used to visualize the region hierarchy (colorized when printing to stderr):

(gdb) call debug (*this)
r0: @{kind: 'root', parent: null, sval: null@}
|-stack: r1: @{kind: 'stack', parent: r0, sval: sv1@}
|  |: sval: sv1: @{poisoned: uninit@}
|  |-frame for 'test': r2: @{kind: 'frame', parent: r1, sval: null, map: @{'ptr_3': r3@}, function: 'test', depth: 0@}
|  |  `-'ptr_3': r3: @{kind: 'map', parent: r2, sval: sv3, type: 'void *', map: @{@}@}
|  |    |: sval: sv3: @{type: 'void *', unknown@}
|  |    |: type: 'void *'
|  `-frame for 'calls_malloc': r4: @{kind: 'frame', parent: r1, sval: null, map: @{'result_3': r7, '_4': r8, '<anonymous>': r5@}, function: 'calls_malloc', depth: 1@}
|    |-'<anonymous>': r5: @{kind: 'map', parent: r4, sval: sv4, type: 'void *', map: @{@}@}
|    |  |: sval: sv4: @{type: 'void *', &r6@}
|    |  |: type: 'void *'
|    |-'result_3': r7: @{kind: 'map', parent: r4, sval: sv4, type: 'void *', map: @{@}@}
|    |  |: sval: sv4: @{type: 'void *', &r6@}
|    |  |: type: 'void *'
|    `-'_4': r8: @{kind: 'map', parent: r4, sval: sv4, type: 'void *', map: @{@}@}
|      |: sval: sv4: @{type: 'void *', &r6@}
|      |: type: 'void *'
`-heap: r9: @{kind: 'heap', parent: r0, sval: sv2@}
  |: sval: sv2: @{poisoned: uninit@}
  `-r6: @{kind: 'symbolic', parent: r9, sval: null, map: @{@}@}
  sv0: @{type: 'size_t', '1024'@}
  sv1: @{poisoned: uninit@}
  sv2: @{poisoned: uninit@}
  sv3: @{type: 'void *', unknown@}
  sv4: @{type: 'void *', &r6@}
constraint manager:
  equiv classes:
    ec0: @{sv0 == '1024'@}
    ec1: @{sv4@}
@end smallexample

This is the state at the point of returning from @code{calls_malloc} back
to @code{test} in the following:

void *
calls_malloc (void)
  void *result = malloc (1024);
  return result;

void test (void)
  void *ptr = calls_malloc ();
  /* etc.  */
@end smallexample

The ``root'' region (``r0'') has a ``stack'' child (``r1''), with two
children: a frame for @code{test} (``r2''), and a frame for
@code{calls_malloc} (``r4'').  These frame regions have child regions for
storing their local variables.  For example, the return region
and that of various other regions within the ``calls_malloc'' frame all have
value ``sv4'', a pointer to a heap-allocated region ``r6''.  Within the parent
frame, @code{ptr_3} has value ``sv3'', an unknown @code{void *}.

@subsection Analyzer Paths

We need to explain to the user what the problem is, and to persuade them
that there really is a problem.  Hence having a @code{diagnostic_path}
isn't just an incidental detail of the analyzer; it's required.

Paths ought to be:
@itemize @bullet
@end itemize

Without state-merging, all paths in the exploded graph are feasible
(in terms of constraints being satisified).
With state-merging, paths in the exploded graph can be infeasible.

We collate warnings and only emit them for the simplest path
e.g. for a bug in a utility function, with lots of routes to calling it,
we only emit the simplest path (which could be intraprocedural, if
it can be reproduced without a caller).  We apply a check that
each duplicate warning's shortest path is feasible, rejecting any
warnings for which the shortest path is infeasible (which could lead to
false negatives).

We use the shortest feasible @code{exploded_path} through the
@code{exploded_graph} (a list of @code{exploded_edge *}) to build a
@code{diagnostic_path} (a list of events for the diagnostic subsystem) -
specifically a @code{checker_path}.

Having built the @code{checker_path}, we prune it to try to eliminate
events that aren't relevant, to minimize how much the user has to read.

After pruning, we notify each event in the path of its ID and record the
IDs of interesting events, allowing for events to refer to other events
in their descriptions.  The @code{pending_diagnostic} class has various
vfuncs to support emitting more precise descriptions, so that e.g.

@itemize @bullet
a deref-of-unchecked-malloc diagnostic might use:
  returning possibly-NULL pointer to 'make_obj' from 'allocator'
@end smallexample
for a @code{return_event} to make it clearer how the unchecked value moves
from callee back to caller
a double-free diagnostic might use:
  second 'free' here; first 'free' was at (3)
@end smallexample
and a use-after-free might use
  use after 'free' here; memory was freed at (2)
@end smallexample
@end itemize

At this point we can emit the diagnostic.

@subsection Limitations

@itemize @bullet
Only for C so far
The implementation of call summaries is currently very simplistic.
Lack of function pointer analysis
The constraint-handling code assumes reflexivity in some places
(that values are equal to themselves), which is not the case for NaN.
As a simple workaround, constraints on floating-point values are
currently ignored.
The region model code creates lots of little mutable objects at each
@code{region_model} (and thus per @code{exploded_node}) rather than
sharing immutable objects and having the mutable state in the
@code{program_state} or @code{region_model}.  The latter approach might be
more efficient, and might avoid dealing with IDs rather than pointers
(which requires us to impose an ordering to get meaningful equality).
The region model code doesn't yet support @code{memcpy}.  At the
gimple-ssa level these have been optimized to statements like this:
_10 = MEM <long unsigned int> [(char * @{ref-all@})&c]
MEM <long unsigned int> [(char * @{ref-all@})&d] = _10;
@end smallexample
Perhaps they could be supported via a new @code{compound_svalue} type.
There are various other limitations in the region model (grep for TODO/xfail
in the testsuite).
The constraint_manager's implementation of transitivity is currently too
expensive to enable by default and so must be manually enabled via
The checkers are currently hardcoded and don't allow for user extensibility
(e.g. adding allocate/release pairs).
Although the analyzer's test suite has a proof-of-concept test case for
LTO, LTO support hasn't had extensive testing.  There are various
lang-specific things in the analyzer that assume C rather than LTO.
For example, SSA names are printed to the user in ``raw'' form, rather
than printing the underlying variable name.
@end itemize

Some ideas for other checkers
@itemize @bullet
File-descriptor-based APIs
Linux kernel internal APIs
Signal handling
@end itemize

@node Debugging the Analyzer
@section Debugging the Analyzer
@cindex analyzer, debugging
@cindex static analyzer, debugging

@subsection Special Functions for Debugging the Analyzer

The analyzer recognizes various special functions by name, for use
in debugging the analyzer.  Declarations can be seen in the testsuite
in @file{analyzer-decls.h}.  None of these functions are actually

  __analyzer_break ();
@end smallexample
to the source being analyzed to trigger a breakpoint in the analyzer when
that source is reached.  By putting a series of these in the source, it's
much easier to effectively step through the program state as it's analyzed.

__analyzer_dump ();
@end smallexample

will dump the copious information about the analyzer's state each time it
reaches the call in its traversal of the source.

__analyzer_dump_path ();
@end smallexample

will emit a placeholder ``note'' diagnostic with a path to that call site,
if the analyzer finds a feasible path to it.

The builtin @code{__analyzer_dump_exploded_nodes} will emit a warning
after analysis containing information on all of the exploded nodes at that
program point:

  __analyzer_dump_exploded_nodes (0);
@end smallexample

will output the number of ``processed'' nodes, and the IDs of
both ``processed'' and ``merger'' nodes, such as:

warning: 2 processed enodes: [EN: 56, EN: 58] merger(s): [EN: 54-55, EN: 57, EN: 59]
@end smallexample

With a non-zero argument

  __analyzer_dump_exploded_nodes (1);
@end smallexample

it will also dump all of the states within the ``processed'' nodes.

   __analyzer_dump_region_model ();
@end smallexample
will dump the region_model's state to stderr.

__analyzer_eval (expr);
@end smallexample
will emit a warning with text "TRUE", FALSE" or "UNKNOWN" based on the
truthfulness of the argument.  This is useful for writing DejaGnu tests.

@subsection Other Debugging Techniques

One approach when tracking down where a particular bogus state is
introduced into the @code{exploded_graph} is to add custom code to

For example, this custom code (added to @code{region_model::validate})
breaks with an assertion failure when a variable called @code{ptr}
acquires a value that's unknown, using
@code{region_model::get_value_by_name} to locate the variable

    /* Find a variable matching "ptr".  */
    svalue_id sid = get_value_by_name ("ptr");
    if (!sid.null_p ())
	svalue *sval = get_svalue (sid);
	gcc_assert (sval->get_kind () != SK_UNKNOWN);
@end smallexample

making it easier to investigate further in a debugger when this occurs.