Type-Based Verification of Assembly Language for Compiler Debugging

Bor-Yuh Evan Chang, Adam Chlipala, George C. Necula, Robert R. Schneck. Type-Based Verification of Assembly Language for Compiler Debugging. Proceedings of the 2nd ACM SIGPLAN Workshop on Types in Language Design and Implementation (TLDI'05). January 2005.

Paper as PDF, Paper as PS

It is a common belief that certifying compilation, which typically verifies the well-typedness of compiler output, can be an effective mechanism for compiler debugging, in addition to ensuring basic safety properties. Bytecode verification is a fairly simple example of this approach and derives its simplicity in part by compiling to carefully crafted high-level bytecodes. In this paper, we seek to push this method to native assembly code, while maintaining much of the simplicity of bytecode verification. Furthermore, we wish to provide experimental confirmation that such a tool can be accessible and effective for compiler debugging. To achieve these goals, we present a type-based data-flow analysis or abstract interpretation for assembly code compiled from a Java-like language, and evaluate its bug-finding efficacy on a large set of student compilers.