Almost-Correct Specifications: A Modular Semantic Framework for Assigning Confidence to Warnings

Modular assertion checkers are plagued with false alarms due to the need for precise environment specifications (preconditions and callee postconditions). Even the fully precise checkers report assertion failures under the most demonic environments allowed by unconstrained or partial specifications. The inability to preclude overly adversarial environments makes such checkers less attractive to developers and severely limits the adoption of such tools in the development cycle.

In this work, we propose a parameterized framework for prioritizing the assertion failures reported by a modular verifier, with the goal of suppressing warnings from overly demonic environments. We formalize {\it almost-correct specifications} as the minimal weakening of an angelic specification (over a set of predicates) that precludes any dead code intraprocedurally. Our work is inspired by and generalizes some aspects of semantic inconsistency detection. Our formulation allows us to lift this idea to a general class of warnings. We have developed a prototype \acspec{}, which we use to explore a few instantiations of the framework and report preliminary findings on a diverse set of C benchmarks.

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In  Programming Language Design and Implementation (PLDI'13)

Publisher  ACM

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TypeInproceedings
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