Exception Analysis and Points-to Analysis: Better Together

In this ISSTA 2009 publication, LogicBlox team member Martin Bravenboer and academic collaborator Yannis Smaragdakis write about how Doop, the LogicBlox-based declarative points-to analysis, can be used to perform better exception analysis.

Abstract Exception analysis and points-to analysis are typically done in complete separation. Past algorithms for precise exception analysis (e.g., pairing throw clauses with catch statements) use pre-computed points-to information. Past points-to analyses either unsoundly ignore exceptions, or conservatively compute a crude approximation of exception throwing (e.g., considering an exception throw as an assignment to a global variable, accessible from any catch clause). We show that this separation results in significant slowdowns or vast imprecision. The two kinds of analyses are interdependent: neither can be performed accurately without the other. The interdependency leads us to propose a joint handling for performance and precision. We show that our exception analysis is expressible highly elegantly in a declarative form, and can apply to points-to analyses of varying precision. In fact, our specification of exception analysis is “fully precise”, as it models closely the Java exception handling semantics. The necessary approximation is provided only through whichever abstractions are used for contexts and objects in the base points-to analysis. Our combined approach achieves similar precision relative to exceptions (exception-catch links) as the best past precise exception analysis, with a runtime of seconds instead of tens of minutes. At the same time, our analysis achieves much higher precision of points-to information (an average of half as many values for each reachable variable for most of the DaCapo benchmarks) than points-to analyses that treat exceptions conservatively, all at a fraction of the execution time.

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