This page lists several projects that would boost analyzer's usability and power. Most of the projects listed here are infrastructure-related so this list is an addition to the potential checkers list. If you are interested in tackling one of these, please send an email to the cfe-dev mailing list to notify other members of the community.
- Release checkers from "alpha"
New checkers which were contributed to the analyzer, but have not passed a rigorous evaluation process, are committed as "alpha checkers" (from "alpha version"), and are not enabled by default.
Ideally, only the checkers which are actively being worked on should be in "alpha", but over the years the development of many of those has stalled. Such checkers should either be improved up to a point where they can be enabled by default, or removed from the analyzer entirely.
Array bounds checking is a desired feature, but having an acceptable rate of false positives might not be possible without a proper loop widening support. Additionally, it might be more promising to perform index checking based on tainted index values.
This alpha checker is an attempt to write a production grade stream checker. However, it was found to have an unacceptably high false positive rate. One of the found problems was that eagerly splitting the state based on whether the system call may fail leads to too many reports. A delayed split where the implication is stored in the state (similarly to nullability implications in
TrustNonnullChecker) may produce much better results.
- Improve C++ support
- Handle construction as part of aggregate initialization.
Aggregates are objects that can be brace-initialized without calling a constructor (that is,
CXXConstructExprdoes not occur in the AST), but potentially calling constructors for their fields and base classes These constructors of sub-objects need to know what object they are constructing. Moreover, if the aggregate contains references, lifetime extension needs to be properly modeled. One can start untangling this problem by trying to replace the current ad-hoc
ExprEngine::VisitCXXConstructExpr()with proper support for the feature.
- Handle array constructors.
When an array of objects is allocated (say, using the
operator newor defining a stack array), constructors for all elements of the array are called. We should model (potentially some of) such evaluations, and the same applies for destructors called from
operator delete. See tests cases in handle_constructors_with_new_array.cpp.
Constructing an array requires invoking multiple (potentially unknown) amount of constructors with the same construct-expression. Apart from the technical difficulties of juggling program points around correctly to avoid accidentally merging paths together, we'll have to be a judge on when to exit the loop and how to widen it. Given that the constructor is going to be a default constructor, a nice 95% solution might be to execute exactly one constructor and then default-bind the resulting LazyCompoundVal to the whole array; it'll work whenever the default constructor doesn't touch global state but only initializes the object to various default values. But if, say, we're making an array of strings, depending on the implementation you might have to allocate a new buffer for each string, and in this case default-binding won't cut it. We might want to come up with an auxiliary analysis in order to perform widening of these simple loops more precisely.
- Handle constructors that can be elided due to Named Return Value Optimization (NRVO)
Local variables which are returned by values on all return statements may be stored directly at the address for the return value, eliding the copy or move constructor call. Such variables can be identified using the AST call
- Handle constructors of lambda captures
Variables which are captured by value into a lambda require a call to a copy constructor. This call is not currently modeled.
- Handle constructors for default arguments
Default arguments in C++ are recomputed at every call, and are therefore local, and not static, variables. See tests cases in handle_constructors_for_default_arguments.cpp.
Default arguments are annoying because the initializer expression is evaluated at the call site but doesn't syntactically belong to the caller's AST; instead it belongs to the ParmVarDecl for the default parameter. This can lead to situations when the same expression has to carry different values simultaneously - when multiple instances of the same function are evaluated as part of the same full-expression without specifying the default arguments. Even simply calling the function twice (not necessarily within the same full-expression) may lead to program points agglutinating because it's the same expression. There are some nasty test cases already in temporaries.cpp (struct DefaultParam and so on). I recommend adding a new LocationContext kind specifically to deal with this problem. It'll also help you figure out the construction context when you evaluate the construct-expression (though you might still need to do some additional CFG work to get construction contexts right).
- Enhance the modeling of the standard library.
The analyzer needs a better understanding of STL in order to be more useful on C++ codebases. While full library modeling is not an easy task, large gains can be achieved by supporting only a few cases: e.g. calling
.length()on an empty
std::stringalways yields zero.
- Enhance CFG to model exception-handling.
Currently exceptions are treated as "black holes", and exception-handling control structures are poorly modeled in order to be conservative. This could be improved for both C++ and Objective-C exceptions.
- Handle construction as part of aggregate initialization.
- Core Analyzer Infrastructure
- Handle unions.
Currently in the analyzer the value of a union is always regarded as an unknown. This problem was previously discussed on the mailing list, but no solution was implemented.
- Floating-point support.
Currently, the analyzer treats all floating-point values as unknown. This project would involve adding a new
SValkind for constant floats, generalizing the constraint manager to handle floats, and auditing existing code to make sure it doesn't make incorrect assumptions (most notably, that
X == Xis always true, since it does not hold for
- Improved loop execution modeling.
The analyzer simply unrolls each loop N times before dropping the path, for a fixed constant N. However, that results in lost coverage in cases where the loop always executes more than N times. A Google Summer Of Code project was completed to make the loop bound parameterizable, but the widening problem still remains open.
- Basic function summarization support
The analyzer performs inter-procedural analysis using either inlining or "conservative evaluation" (invalidating all data passed to the function). Often, a very simple summary (e.g. "this function is pure") would be enough to be a large improvement over conservative evaluation. Such summaries could be obtained either syntactically, or using a dataflow framework.
- Implement a dataflow flamework.
The analyzer core implements a symbolic execution engine, which performs checks (use-after-free, uninitialized value read, etc.) over a single program path. However, many useful properties (dead code, check-after-use, etc.) require reasoning over all possible in a program. Such reasoning requires a dataflow analysis framework. Clang already implements a few dataflow analyses (most notably, liveness), but they implemented in an ad-hoc fashion. A proper framework would enable us writing many more useful checkers.
- Track type information through casts more precisely.
DynamicTypePropagationchecker is in charge of inferring a region's dynamic type based on what operations the code is performing. Casts are a rich source of type information that the analyzer currently ignores.
- Handle unions.
- Fixing miscellaneous bugs
Apart from the open projects listed above, contributors are welcome to fix any of the outstanding bugs in the Bugzilla.