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Symbolic pointer analysis

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1 Author(s)
Jianwen Zhu ; Dept. of Electr. & Comput. Eng., Toronto Univ., Ont., Canada

One of the bottlenecks in the recent movement of hardware synthesis from behavioral C programs is the difficulty in reasoning about runtime pointer values at compile time. The pointer analysis problem has been investigated in the compiler community for two decades, which has yielded efficient, polynomial time algorithms for context-insensitive analysis. However, at the accuracy level for which hardware synthesis is desired, namely context and flow sensitive analysis, the time and space complexity of the best algorithms reported grow exponentially with program size. In this paper, we present our first step towards a new analysis technology which potentially leads to almost-linear time complexity and sub-linear space complexity algorithm even for the most accurate analysis. The key idea that contributes to this efficiency is to implicitly encode the pointer-to relation in the Boolean domain, thereby capturing the procedure transfer function completely, compactly and canonically. This represents a wide departure from the traditional techniques, all of which explicitly capture pointer-to relation using variations of point-to graph, which have to be re-evaluated for different calling contexts. Experiments for our first flow-insensitive algorithm on common benchmarks show promising results.

Published in:

Computer Aided Design, 2002. ICCAD 2002. IEEE/ACM International Conference on

Date of Conference:

10-14 Nov. 2002