# More Abstract Information. More Concrete Information

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1 Abstract Interpretation Sorin Lerner June 4, Introduction The work surveyed in class so far was not concerned with proving correctness of dataflow analyses. We saw algorithms for computing properties of a program, but it was not shown that these properties correctly characterized the program. Although it would be possible to reason about the correctness of dataflow analyses one at a time, a unified framework would make the proofs easier to understand and to develop. Abstract interpretation is exactly such a framework: it provides a unified theory of fixpoint approximations which (amongst other things) can be used to formalize the notion of correctness of a dataflow analysis with respect to the semantics of a program. This is achieved by relating the solution of a dataflow analysis with the behaviors of a program, and guaranteeing that the dataflow solution over-estimates the possible behaviors of the program. 2 Program Semantics and ixpoints The semantics of a programming language specifies the semantics of any program written in that language. The semantics of a program provides a mathematical model that specifies all possible behaviors of the program [1]. Cousot and Cousot argue that the semantics of a program can be expressed as the least fixpoint of a function c (a fixpoint being a solution to the equation X = c (X)). c is called the concrete interpretation function, and it specifies the concrete semantics of a program. Example. Here is a simple example showing how a fixpoint can be used to encode the behaviors of a program. Assuming a control flow graph representation, the state of execution of a program is a pair (a; e), where a is an edge in the control flow graph, and e is an environment that maps variables to values. Let States be the set of all possible states of a program, and be the initial state of the program (the state in which the program starts). The concrete interpretation function c :2 States! 2 States can then be defined as follows: c (X) returns a set of states which includes as well as all states that can be reached from the states in X using one operation in the control flow graph. The least fixpoint of c is the set of all possible states that the program can reach when started in the initial state. If the program runs forever, the least fixpoint of c still exists but will be infinite. Ξ Solving for the least fixpoint in the concrete semantics of a program is generally undecidable because the program may not terminate and the set of possible inputs to the program may be infinite. Even if the program does terminate and the set of inputs is finite, finding the least fixpoint of c is tantamount to running the program, which may be too expensive for static analysis. The key idea then is to approximate the least fixpoint of c by finding the least fixpoint of an appropriate abstract interpretation function 1

2 a. The abstract interpretation function operates over an abstract domain which only keeps track of a particular property ofinterest. As a result the abstract domain is not as precise as the concrete domain, but it is also smaller" which usually means that the least fixpoint of a is computable. Once we have the least fixpoint of a in the abstract domain, it is possible to map this value back into the concrete domain, resulting in an approximation to the fixpoint of c. An approximation in this context means that the approximate fixpoint of c over-estimates the real fixpoint: we will conclude that the program can have more behaviors than it actually has. Intuitively, finding the fixpoint of c amounts to running the program in the concrete domain, whereas finding the fixpoint of a amounts to running the program in the abstract domain, for instance running a dataflow analysis algorithm. Example. Suppose we are interested in the signs of integers flowing in a program, but not the exact values. In the concrete domain we store for each program point a map from variables to sets of integers. In the abstract domain, we store for each program point a map from variables to an element from the abstract domain f+; ; ±g. + stands for positive numbers, for negative numbers and ± for positive or negative numbers. In the concrete domain, operates over integers whereas in the abstract domain it operates over the abstract values f+; ; ±g. or example evaluates to 180 in the concrete domain, which maps to " +" evaluating to " in the abstract domain. As another example, evaluates to 2 in the concrete domain, whereas " + +" evaluates to ±" in the abstract domain. Ξ The above example shows the two ways in which the abstract domain loses precision. irst, there is a loss of precision due to the abstraction itself: even though the result of is 180, the most precise answer the abstract domain can give is that the result is negative. Second, there is a loss of precision because the operators in the abstract domain reach fixpoint faster, and therefore lose precision more quickly: even though the result of is positive, the best we can do in the abstract domain is conclude that the result is either positive or negative. 3 Abstract Interpretation 3.1 Definition This section formalizes the intuitive ideas presented in the previous section. We have already seen how both the semantics of a program and the dataflow analysis algorithm can be seen as fixpoint computations. We formalize this by introducing the general notion of an abstract interpretation: an abstract interpretation is a tuple I = hd; t; u; v; >;?;i, where hd; t; u; v; >;?i is a complete lattice, and : D! D is the interpretation function (see appendix A for the definition of a complete lattice). The solution of an abstract interpretation I = hd; t; u; v; >;?;i is the least fixpoint of 1. Assuming is continuous, then the least fixpoint of is 1 i=0 i (?) (see appendix A). Intuitively,? represents no information about the program, and by applying we gather more and more information until we reach fixpoint. Elements higher in the lattice approximate those lower in the lattice because higher elements encode more behaviors. Therefore,? (assume nothing happens) is the most optimistic information, and > (assume anything can happen) is the most conservative information 2. 1 If you have read[2],you'll notice that Cousot and Cousot define I = ha-cont; t; v; >;?;Inti, and the solution of I as the fixpoint ofg Int, an extension of Int. My definition differs slightly in that the interpretation function I is the actual function of which we are finding the fixpoint. 2 Note that the literature on dataflow analysis uses the opposite convention:? as conservative and> as optimistic. 2

3 3.2 Consistent Abstract Interpretation In section 2, we talked about two abstract interpretations: the concrete semantics I c = hd c ; t c ; u c ; v c ; > c ;? c ; c i, and an abstract version of the concrete semantics I a = hd a ; t a ; u a v a ; > a ;? a ; a i. As we saw I c is more precise than I a but its fixpoint may not be computable. The goal is to approximate the fixpoint of I c by finding a fixpoint ofi a. This can be formalized by relating the two fixpoints (and more generally relating concrete and abstract values) using an abstraction function ff : D c! D a and a concretization function fl : D a! D c. The abstraction function returns the abstract property that an exact behavior has. The concretization function returns the concrete values that have agiven abstract property. The relation that we require between the fixpoint of an abstract" interpretation I a and a concrete" interpretation I c is shown below: ff ψ 1G! G 1 i (? c c ) v a i (? a a ) (1) i=0 i=0 1G i (? c c ) v c fl i=0 ψ 1G! i (? a a ) i=0 (2) These properties formalize the intuitive idea that we want the dataflow analysis to over-estimate the actual behaviors of the program. More precisely, property (1) says that the analysis has done enough work to over-approximate the property we are interested in, whereas property (2) says that the analysis has done enough work to over-approximate the behavior of the program. Properties (1) and (2) are global in that they hold at fixpoint. Because these global properties are hard to prove directly, Cousot and Cousot introduce the following local consistency properties, which are sufficient to prove (1)and (2): ff and fl are continuous (3) 8x 2 D c :ff( c (x)) v a a (ff(x)) (4) 8x 2 D a : c (fl(x)) v c fl( a (x)) (5) Condition (3) requires ff and fl to be continuous and we will shortly see where this is used. Property (4) essentially says that mapping over to the abstract domain and taking one step there will bring you higher (recall that higher means over-estimating) in the abstract lattice than taking one step in the concrete domain and then mapping over to the abstract domain. Property (5) has a similar intuitive interpretation. Properties (4) and (5) are in fact local versions of (1) and (2). or example, assuming property (4) it is possible to show by induction that 8i 0:ff( i c (? c )) v a i a(? a ) (6) 3

4 γ (lfp(a)) γ lfp(a) a α c lfp(c) α (lfp(c)) γ α γ a c α More Concrete Information c a More Abstract Information c a igure 1: Connection between two abstract interpretations I c and I a. If a straight line (dashed, solid, or an arrow) connects two points, then the two points are ordered in the lattice: the point higher up in the drawing is the larger one in the lattice. 4

5 Property (6) and the continuity of ff then imply property (1). The continuity of ff is important here because it justifies the step from property (6), which talks about finite i, to property, (1) which talks about infinite chains. igure 1 helps visualize the connection between the abstract and the concrete domain. It shows the successive steps in the fixpoint computation of c and a, and how ff and fl relate the domain elements computed at each step. or example, notice that there is a straight dashed line between the points that represent ff( c ( c (? c ))) and a ( a (? a )). This indicates that after two steps we have ff( c ( c (? c ))) v a a ( a (? a )), which is an instantiation of property (6). Similarly, notice how there is a straight dashed line between ff(lfp( c )) and lfp( a ) (where lfp is the least fixpoint operator, returning the least fixpoint ofa function see appendix A for details), indicating that ff(lfp( c )) v a lfp( a ) (property (1)).There is also a straight dashed line to indicate that lfp( c ) v c fl(lfp( a )) (property (2)). 3.3 Continuity of ff and fl In [2] Cousot and Cousot do not directly require ff and fl to be continuous. Instead they require that the following stronger properties hold, which in turn imply the continuity of ff and fl: 8x 2 D c :x v fl(ff(x)) (7) 8x 2 D a :x = ff(fl(x)) (8) Equation (8) says that concretization introduces no loss of precision: the concretization of an abstract property has exactly that property. Equation (7) says that abstraction may lead to loss of precision: if a program's behaviors are abstracted and then concretized, we might end up with an over-estimation of the original behaviors (that is, a larger set of behaviors). In addition to guaranteeing the continuity of ff and fl, property (8) also guarantees that ff and fl are non-trivial. If the only requirement on ff and fl were continuity, then one could define ff(x) =? a for all x and fl(x) => c for all x, which would trivially satisfy (4) and (5). Property (8) prevents us from doing this by requiring that ff and fl encode in a non-trivial way the abstract property ofinterest. 3.4 Summary of Requirements In summary, here are the steps required to use abstract interpretation to show that an analysis algorithm is correct with respect to the semantics of a program: ffl Define the concrete domain and the abstract domain. ffl Define c (the semantics of programs) and a (the analysis algorithm), and show that they are continuous. ffl Define ff and fl in a way that encodes the abstract property of interest, and show that they are continuous. ffl Prove that local consistency properties (4) and (5) hold for c and a. Once these requirements have been fulfilled, properties (1) and (2) are guaranteed to hold. 5

6 4 urther Reading In this paper summary we have only looked at one application of abstract interpretation, namely its use as a correctness criterion for static analyses. Abstract interpretation is however much more general than this and has been applied in many settings. or example, Chapter 3 of [5] shows how to use abstract interpretation to reason about Binding Time Analyses. The framework is different from the one presented in this paper summary because it does not use fl. Indeed, if we are only interested in showing (1), then it is sufficient todefine ff in such away that it encodes the property ofinterest, and then show (4).This can be useful if fl is hard to define. As another example, abstract interpretation has been used in model checking. The model checking community has developed a notion of abstraction [8] which is similar to abstract interpretation. The main difference is that the abstraction framework from model checking does not require an ordering on the concrete and abstract values. There has however been work on model checking that does impose such an ordering, and uses the general framework of abstract interpretation (eg: [4], [7]). As another example, Cousot and Cousot have shown how to study temporal calculi and logics using abstract interpretation [3]. inally, the extended electronic version of [1], which can be found at COUSOTpapers/LNCS shtml, has a large bibliography on the topics of abstract interpretation, program analysis and formal methods. The interested reader can use this bibliography as a good starting point for further material. A Partially Ordered Sets and Lattices This section presents some background on partially ordered sets and lattices. It is meant to cover only those topics which are required to understand this paper summary. More details can be found in Appendix A of [9] or in [6]. Partially ordered sets. A relation R over a set D is a subset of D D. A relation is a partial order iff it is reflexive, transitive and anti-symmetric. A partially ordered set, or poset (D; v) is a set D equipped with a partial order v over D. Upper and lower bounds. If Y D is a subset of a poset (D; v) then: ffl d is an upper bound of Y iff d 2 D and 8d 0 2 Y:d 0 v d. ffl d is the least upper bound of Y, denoted Y,iffd is an upper bound of Y and d v d 0 holds for any upper bound d 0 of Y. ffl d is a lower bound of Y iff d 2 D and 8d 0 2 Y:d v d 0. ffl d is the greatest lower bound of Y, denoted u Y, iff d is a lower bound of Y and d 0 v d holds for any lower bound d 0 of Y. Chains. A subset Y D of a poset (D; v) isachain iff 8d; d 0 2 Y:(d v d 0 _ d 0 v d) Complete Lattices. A complete lattice is a partially ordered set where each subset has a least upper bound and a greatest lower bound. ormally, a complete lattice is a tuple L = hd; t; u; v; >;?i, where: 6

7 ffl (D; v) isaposet. ffl is the least upper bound operator and Y exists for any Y D. ffl u is the greatest lower bound operator and uy exists for any Y D. ffl > is the greatest element ofd and? is the least element ind. Monotonicity. A function f from one complete lattice hd; t; u; v; >;?i to another hd 0 ; t 0 ; u 0 ; v 0 ; > 0 ;? 0 i is monotone iff x v y! f(x) v 0 f(y). Continuity. A function f from one complete lattice hd; t; u; v; >;?i to another hd 0 ; t 0 ; u 0 ; v 0 ; > 0 ;? 0 i is continuous iff for any chain Y it is the case that 0 ff(d)jd 2 Y g = f( Y ). If f is continuous, then f is monotone. Example. Here is an example of a function that is not continuous. Let D = f0; 1; 2; :::g [1 and L = hd; t; u;»; 1; 0i; D 0 = f0; 1g and L 0 = hd 0 ; t 0 ; u 0 ;»; 1; 0i. Let f : D! D 0 be defined as follows: f(x) =( 0 if x is finite 1 if x = 1 Let Y be the set of finite integers. Y is a chain because for any two integers a and b it is the case that a» b _ b» a. We have Y = 1, andsof( Y )=1. However, because f(x) = 0 whenever x is finite we have ff(d)jd 2 Y g = f0g, and so 0 ff(d)jd 2 Y g =0. Therefore f is not continuous. It is however easy to see that f is monotone. Ξ ixpoints. A fixpoint of a function f : D! D over a complete lattice hd; t; u; v; >;?i is an element d 2 D such thatf(d) =d. The least fixpoint off, denoted lfp(f), is a fixpoint d such that d v d 0 holds for any fixpoint d 0 of f. If f is continuous, then f has a least fixpoint, and lfp(f) = 1 i=0 f i (?), where f 0 = x:x and f k = f ffif k 1 for k>0. References [1] P. Cousot. Abstract interpretation based formal methods and future challenges. In Informatics, 10 Years Back - 10 Years Ahead, Lecture Notes in Computer Science R. Wilhelm (Ed.), [2] P. Cousot and R. Cousot. Abstract interpretation: a unified lattice model for statis analysis of programs by construction or apporximation of fixpoints. In Proceedings of the ourth ACM Symposium on Principles of Programming Languages, Los Angeles CA, January [3] P. Cousot and R. Cousot. Temporal abstraction. In Proceedings of the 27-th ACM Symposium on Principles of Programming Languages, Boston MA, January [4] Dennis Dams, Rob Gerth, and Orna Grumberg. Abstract interpretation of reactive systems. ACM Transactions on Programming Languages and Systems, 19(2): , March [5] Manuvir Das. Partial Evaluation Using Dependence Graphs. PhD thesis, University of Wisconsin - Madison, eb

8 [6] B.A. Davey and H. A. Prestley. Introduction to Lattices and Order. Cambridge Mathematical Textbooks. Cambridge University Press, [7]. Huch. Verification of erlang programs using abstract interpreation and model checking. In ACM SIGPLAN Notices, pages 34(9): , September Proceedings of the ACM SIGPLAN International Conference on unctional Programming (ICP 99). [8] E. M. Clarke Jr., O. Grumberg, and D. E. Long. Model checking and abstraction. In Proceedings of the Nineteenth ACM Symposium on Principles of Programming Languages, Albequerque New Mexico, January [9]. Nielson, H.R. Nielson, and C. Hankin. Principles of Program Analysis. Springer-Verlag,

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