Folder ansi-c

Kareem Khazem, Martin Brain


Contains the front-end for ANSI C, plus a variety of common extensions. This parses the file, performs some basic sanity checks (this is one area in which the UI could be improved; patches most welcome) and then produces a goto-program (see below). The parser is a traditional Flex / Bison system.

internal_addition.c contains the implementation of various ‘magic’ functions that are that allow control of the analysis from the source code level. These include assertions, assumptions, atomic blocks, memory fences and rounding modes.

The library/ subdirectory contains versions of some of the C standard header files that make use of the CPROVER built-in functions. This allows CPROVER programs to be ‘aware’ of the functionality and model it correctly. Examples include stdio.c, string.c, setjmp.c and various threading interfaces.

Preprocessing & Parsing

In the ansi-c directory

Key classes:


In the ansi-c directory

Key classes:

This stage generates a symbol table, mapping identifiers to symbols; symbols are tuples of (value, type, location, flags).

This is a good point to introduce the irept ("internal representation") class—the base type of many of CBMC's hierarchical data structures. In particular, expressions, types and statements are all subtypes of irept. An irep is a tree of ireps. A subtlety is that an irep is actually the root of three (possibly empty) trees, i.e. it has three disjoint sets of children: irept::get_sub() returns a list of children, and irept::get_named_sub() and irept::get_comments() each return an association from names to children. Most clients never use these functions directly, as subtypes of irept generally provide more descriptive functions. For example, the operands of an expression (op0, op1 etc) are really that expression's children; the left-hand and right-hand side of an assignment are the children of that assignment. The irept::pretty() function provides a descriptive string representation of an irep.

irep_idts ("identifiers") are strings that use sharing to improve memory consumption. A common pattern is a map from irep_idts to ireps. A goto-program contains a single symbol table (with a single scope), meaning that the names of identifiers in the target program are lightly mangled in order to make them globally unique. If there is an identifier foo in the target program, the name field of foo's symbol in the goto-program will be

The use of sharing to save memory is a pervasive design decision in the implementation of ireps and identifiers. Sharing makes equality comparisons fast (as there is no need to traverse entire trees), and this is especially important given the large number of map lookups throughout the codebase. More importantly, the use of sharing saves vast amounts of memory, as there is plenty of duplication within the goto-program data structures. For example, every statement, and every sub-expression of a statement, contains a source_locationt that indicates the source file and location that it came from. Every symbol in every expression has a field indicating its type and location; etc. Although each of these are constructed as separate objects, the values that they eventually point to are shared throughout the codebase, decreasing memory consumption dramatically.

The Type Checking stage turns a parse tree into a symbol table. In this context, the 'symbols' consist of code statements as well as what might more traditionally be called symbols. Thus, for example:

Parsing performance considerations

Compiler References

CodeWarrior C Compilers Reference 3.2:



ARM 4.1 Compiler Reference: