Ensuring Correctness of Compiled Code
Candidate: Ganna Zaks
Advisor: Amir Pnueli


Traditionally, the verification effort is applied to the abstract algorithmic descriptions of the underlining software. However, even well understood protocols such as Peterson's protocol for mutual exclusion, whose algorithmic description takes only half a page, have published implementations that are erroneous. Furthermore, the semantics of the implementations can be altered by optimizing compilers, which are very large applications and, consequently, are bound to have bugs. Thus, it is highly desirable to ensure the correctness of the compiled code especially in safety critical and high-assurance software. This dissertation describes two alternative approaches that bring us closer to solving the problem.

First, we present CoVaC - a deductive framework for proving program equivalence and its application to automatic verification of transformations performed by optimizing compilers. To leverage the existing program analysis techniques, we reduce the equivalence checking problem to analysis of one system - a cross-product of the two input programs. We show how the approach can be effectively used for checking equivalence of single-threaded programs that are structurally similar. Unlike the existing frameworks, our approach accommodates absence of compiler annotations and handles most of the classical intraprocedural optimizations such as constant folding, reassociation, common subexpression elimination, code motion, dead code elimination, branch optimizations, and others. In addition, we have developed rules for translation validation of interprocedural optimizations, which can be applied when compiler annotations are available.

The second contribution is the pancam framework for verifying multi-threaded C programs. Pancam first compiles a multithreaded C program into optimized bytecode format. The framework relies on Spin, an existing explicit state model checker, to orchestrate the program's state space search. However, the program transitions and states are computed by the pancam bytecode interpreter. A feature of our approach is that not only pancam checks the actual implementation, but it can also check the code after compiler optimizations. Pancam addresses the state space explosion problem by allowing users to define data abstraction functions and to constrain the number of allowed context switches. We also describe a partial order reduction method that reduces context switches using dynamic knowledge computed on-the-fly, while being sound for both safety and liveness properties.