Sudhir Samrit and Rupesh Nasre

We present an information-merging technique for efficient computation of points-to information for C programs. Invalid use of pointers can lead to hard-to-find bugs and may expose security vulnerabilities. Thus, analyzing them is critical for software analysis as well as optimization. Pointer analysis is a key step during compilation, and the computed points-to information is useful for client analyses from varied domains such as bug finding, data-flow analysis, identifying security vulnerabilities, and parallelization, to name a few. Former research on pointer analysis has indicated that the main bottleneck towards scalability is large propagation of points-to information in the constraint graph. To reduce the propagation cost, we present a technique based on temporal similarity of points-to sets. The method tracks pointers whose dynamically changing points-to information remains equal for a while. Based on the optimism gained by observing the points-to sets over time, the analysis decides to merge the corresponding nodes. Using the notion of merge and split, we build a family of points-to analyses, and compare their relative precisions in the context of existing analyses. We illustrate the effectiveness of our approach using a suite of sixteen SPEC 2000 benchmarks and three large open-source programs, and show that the technique improves the analysis time over BDD and bitmap based Hybrid Cycle Detection, well-known Andersen’s analysis, and Deep Propagation, affecting minimal precision (precision is 96.4% on an average). Specifically, it is faster than Deep Propagation by 45%.