r174398 - [analyzer] Add a doc describing the internals of RegionStore.

Jordan Rose jordan_rose at apple.com
Tue Feb 5 09:31:34 PST 2013

Author: jrose
Date: Tue Feb  5 11:31:34 2013
New Revision: 174398

URL: http://llvm.org/viewvc/llvm-project?rev=174398&view=rev
[analyzer] Add a doc describing the internals of RegionStore.

This is a text file with Markdown-ish formatting because we haven't decided
where analyzer internal documents should go, but it's probably better to
have this in source control than sitting on my local drive forever.


Added: cfe/trunk/docs/analyzer/RegionStore.txt
URL: http://llvm.org/viewvc/llvm-project/cfe/trunk/docs/analyzer/RegionStore.txt?rev=174398&view=auto
--- cfe/trunk/docs/analyzer/RegionStore.txt (added)
+++ cfe/trunk/docs/analyzer/RegionStore.txt Tue Feb  5 11:31:34 2013
@@ -0,0 +1,171 @@
+The analyzer "Store" represents the contents of memory regions. It is an opaque
+functional data structure stored in each ProgramState; the only class that can
+modify the store is its associated StoreManager.
+Currently (Feb. 2013), the only StoreManager implementation being used is
+RegionStoreManager. This store records bindings to memory regions using a "base
+region + offset" key. (This allows `*p` and `p[0]` to map to the same location,
+among other benefits.)
+Regions are grouped into "clusters", which roughly correspond to "regions with
+the same base region". This allows certain operations to be more efficient,
+such as invalidation.
+Regions that do not have a known offset use a special "symbolic" offset. These
+keys store both the original region, and the "concrete offset region" -- the
+last region whose offset is entirely concrete. (For example, in the expression
+`foo.bar[1][i].baz`, the concrete offset region is the array `foo.bar[1]`,
+since that has a known offset from the start of the top-level `foo` struct.)
+Binding Invalidation
+Supporting both concrete and symbolic offsets makes things a bit tricky. Here's
+an example:
+    foo[0] = 0;
+    foo[1] = 1;
+    foo[i] = i;
+After the third assignment, nothing can be said about the value of `foo[0]`,
+because `foo[i]` may have overwritten it! Thus, *binding to a region with a
+symbolic offset invalidates the entire concrete offset region.* We know
+`foo[i]` is somewhere within `foo`, so we don't have to invalidate anything
+else, but we do have to be conservative about all other bindings within `foo`.
+Continuing the example:
+    foo[i] = i;
+    foo[0] = 0;
+After this latest assignment, nothing can be said about the value of `foo[i]`,
+because `foo[0]` may have overwritten it! *Binding to a region R with a
+concrete offset invalidates any symbolic offset bindings whose concrete offset
+region is a super-region **or** sub-region of R.* All we know about `foo[i]` is
+that it is somewhere within `foo`, so changing *anything* within `foo` might
+change `foo[i]`, and changing *all* of `foo` (or its base region) will
+*definitely* change `foo[i]`.
+This logic could be improved by using the current constraints on `i`, at the
+cost of speed. The latter case could also be improved by matching region kinds,
+i.e. changing `foo[0].a` is unlikely to affect `foo[i].b`, no matter what `i`
+For more detail, read through RegionStoreManager::removeSubRegionBindings in
+Objective-C instance variables require a bit of special handling. Like struct
+fields, they are not base regions, and when their parent object region is
+invalidated, all the instance variables must be invalidated as well. However,
+they have no concrete compile-time offsets (in the modern, "non-fragile"
+runtime), and so cannot easily be represented as an offset from the start of
+the object in the analyzer. Moreover, this means that invalidating a single
+instance variable should *not* invalidate the rest of the object, since unlike
+struct fields or array elements there is no way to perform pointer arithmetic
+to access another instance variable.
+Consequently, although the base region of an ObjCIvarRegion is the entire
+object, RegionStore offsets are computed from the start of the instance
+variable. Thus it is not valid to assume that all bindings with non-symbolic
+offsets start from the base region!
+Region Invalidation
+Unlike binding invalidation, region invalidation occurs when the entire
+contents of a region may have changed---say, because it has been passed to a
+function the analyzer can model, like memcpy, or because its address has
+escaped, usually as an argument to an opaque function call. In these cases we
+need to throw away not just all bindings within the region itself, but within
+its entire cluster, since neighboring regions may be accessed via pointer
+Region invalidation typically does even more than this, however. Because it
+usually represents the complete escape of a region from the analyzer's model,
+its *contents* must also be transitively invalidated. (For example, if a region
+'p' of type 'int **' is invalidated, the contents of '*p' and '**p' may have
+changed as well.) The algorithm that traverses this transitive closure of
+accessible regions is known as ClusterAnalysis, and is also used for finding
+all live bindings in the store (in order to throw away the dead ones). The name
+"ClusterAnalysis" predates the cluster-based organization of bindings, but
+refers to the same concept: during invalidation and liveness analysis, all
+bindings within a cluster must be treated in the same way for a conservative
+model of program behavior.
+Default Bindings
+Most bindings in RegionStore are simple scalar values -- integers and pointers.
+These are known as "Direct" bindings. However, RegionStore supports a second
+type of binding called a "Default" binding. These are used to provide values to
+all the elements of an aggregate type (struct or array) without having to
+explicitly specify a binding for each individual element.
+When there is no Direct binding for a particular region, the store manager
+looks at each super-region in turn to see if there is a Default binding. If so,
+this value is used as the value of the original region. The search ends when
+the base region is reached, at which point the RegionStore will pick an
+appropriate default value for the region (usually a symbolic value, but
+sometimes zero, for static data, or "uninitialized", for stack variables).
+  int manyInts[10];
+  manyInts[1] = 42;   // Creates a Direct binding for manyInts[1].
+  print(manyInts[1]); // Retrieves the Direct binding for manyInts[1];
+  print(manyInts[0]); // There is no Direct binding for manyInts[1].
+                      // Is there a Default binding for the entire array?
+                      // There is not, but it is a stack variable, so we use
+                      // "uninitialized" as the default value (and emit a
+                      // diagnostic!).
+NOTE: The fact that bindings are stored as a base region plus an offset limits
+the Default Binding strategy, because in C aggregates can contain other
+aggregates. In the current implementation of RegionStore, there is no way to
+distinguish a Default binding for an entire aggregate from a Default binding
+for the sub-aggregate at offset 0.
+Lazy Bindings (LazyCompoundVal)
+RegionStore implements an optimization for copying aggregates (structs and
+arrays) called "lazy bindings", implemented using a special SVal called
+LazyCompoundVal. When the store is asked for the "binding" for an entire
+aggregate (i.e. for an lvalue-to-rvalue conversion), it returns a
+LazyCompoundVal instead. When this value is then stored into a variable, it is
+bound as a Default value. This makes copying arrays and structs much cheaper
+than if they had required memberwise access.
+Under the hood, a LazyCompoundVal is implemented as a uniqued pair of (region,
+store), representing "the value of the region during this 'snapshot' of the
+store". This has important implications for any sort of liveness or
+reachability analysis, which must take the bindings in the old store into
+Retrieving a value from a lazy binding happens in the same way as any other
+Default binding: since there is no direct binding, the store manager falls back
+to super-regions to look for an appropriate default binding. LazyCompoundVal
+differs from a normal default binding, however, in that it contains several
+different values, instead of one value that will appear several times. Because
+of this, the store manager has to reconstruct the subregion chain on top of the
+LazyCompoundVal region, and look up *that* region in the previous store.
+Here's a concrete example:
+    CGPoint p;
+    p.x = 42;       // A Direct binding is made to the FieldRegion 'p.x'.
+    CGPoint p2 = p; // A LazyCompoundVal is created for 'p', along with a
+                    // snapshot of the current store state. This value is then
+                    // used as a Default binding for the VarRegion 'p2'.
+    return p2.x;    // The binding for FieldRegion 'p2.x' is requested.
+                    // There is no Direct binding, so we look for a Default
+                    // binding to 'p2' and find the LCV.
+                    // Because it's an LCV, we look at our requested region
+                    // and see that it's the '.x' field. We ask for the value
+                    // of 'p.x' within the snapshot, and get back 42.

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