Automated Verification of Practical Garbage Collectors

Chris Hawblitzel and Erez Petrank


Garbage collectors are notoriously hard to verify, due to their low-level interaction with the underlying system and the general difficulty in reasoning about reachability in graphs. Several papers have presented verified collectors, but either the proofs were handwritten or the collectors were too simplistic to use on practical applications. In this work, we present two mechanically verified garbage collectors, both practical enough to use for real-world C# benchmarks. The collectors and their associated allocators consist of x86 assembly language instructions and macro instructions, annotated with preconditions, postconditions, invariants, and assertions. We used the Boogie verification generator and the Z3 automated theorem prover to verify this assembly language code mechanically. We provide measurements comparing the performance of the verified collector with that of the standard Bartok collectors on off-the-shelf C# benchmarks, demonstrating their competitiveness.


Publication typeInproceedings
Published inPOPL 09: The 36th Annual ACM SIGPLAN-SIGACT Symposium on Principles of Programming Languages
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc.
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