New technical report: "Instance keys: A technique for sharpening whole-program pointer analyses with intraprocedural information"

Eric | October 25, 2007

Authors: Eric Bodden, Patrick Lam and Laurie Hendren
Date: September 2007
Pointer analyses enable many subsequent program analyses and transformations, since they enable compilers to statically disambiguate references to the heap. Extra precision enables pointer analysis clients to draw stronger conclusions about programs. Flow-sensitive pointer analyses are typically quite precise. Unfortunately, flow-sensitive pointer analyses are also often too expensive to run on whole programs. This paper therefore describes a technique which sharpens results from a whole-program flow-insensitive points-to analysis using two flow-sensitive intraprocedural analyses: a must-not-alias analysis and a must-alias analysis. The main technical idea is the notion of instance keys, which enable client analyses to disambiguate object references. We distinguish two kinds of keys: weak and strong. Strong instance keys guarantee that different keys represent different runtime objects, allowing instance keys to almost transparently substitute for runtime objects in static analyses. Weak instance keys may represent multiple runtime objects, but still enable disambiguation of compile-time values. We assign instance keys based on the results of our analyses. We found that the use of instance keys greatly simplified the design and implementation of subsequent analysis phases.

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