Pointer Overflow Checking

Most programming languages have a lot of restrictions on the kinds of pointers that programs can create. C and C++ are unusually permissive in this respect: pointers to arbitrary objects and subobjects, usually all the way down to bytes, can be constructed. Consequently, most address computations can be expressed either in terms of integer arithmetic […]

Checking Up on Dataflow Analyses

An important tool for reasoning about programs without running them is dataflow analysis, which can be used to compute facts such as: an integer-valued variable is non-negative at a particular program point a conditional branch always goes one way an indirect write cannot modify a particular array Dataflow facts drive optimizations such as constant propagation […]

Efficient Integer Overflow Checking in LLVM

(Here’s some optional background reading material.) We want fast integer overflow checking. Why? First, if the undefined behavior sanitizers go faster then testing goes faster. Second, when overhead drops below a certain point people will become willing to use UBSan to harden production code against integer overflows. This is already being done in parts of […]

SQLite with a Fine-Toothed Comb

One of the things I’ve been doing at Trust-in-Soft is looking for defects in open-source software. The program I’ve spent the most time with is SQLite: an extremely widely deployed lightweight database. At ~113 KSLOC of pointer-intensive code, SQLite is too big for easy static verification. On the other hand, it has an incredibly impressive […]

The Strict Aliasing Situation is Pretty Bad

I’ll start with a quick review of the strict aliasing rules in C and C++ and then present some less well-known material. Strict Aliasing Compiler optimizations are often shot down by the potential for pointers to be aliases. For example, although we might naively expect a compiler to optimize this function to return zero, that […]

A Variable Argument Hazard

Variable argument functions in C and C++ can be tricky to use correctly, and they typically only get compiler-based type checking for special cases such as printf(). Recently I ran across an entertaining variable argument bug using tis-interpreter. Although I will use code from SQLite to illustrate this bug, this bug has not been found […]

The Problem with Friendly C

I’ll assume you’re familiar with the Proposal for Friendly C and perhaps also Dan Bernstein’s recent call for a Boring C compiler. Both proposals are reactions to creeping exploitation of undefined behaviors as C/C++ compilers get better optimizers. In contrast, we want old code to just keep working, with latent bugs remaining latent. After publishing […]