Context-Insensitive Alias Analysis Reconsidered

Recent work on alias analysis in the presence of pointers has concentrated on context-sensitive interprocedural analyses, which treat multiple calls to a single procedure independently rather than constructing a single approximation to a procedure's effect on all of its callers. While context-sensitive modeling offers the potential for greater precision by considering only realizable call-return paths, its empirical benefits have yet to be measured. This paper compares the precision of a simple, efficient, context-insensitive points-to analysis for the C programming language with that of a maximally context-sensitive version of the same analysis. We demonstrate that, for a number of pointer-intensive benchmark programs, context-insensitivity exerts little to no precision penalty. We also describe techniques for using the output of context-insensitive analysis to improve the efficiency of context-sensitive analysis without affecting precision.
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