Heap Abstractions for Static Analysis
ACM Computing Surveys
Heap data is potentially unbounded and seemingly arbitrary. As a consequence, unlike stack and static memory, heap memory cannot be abstracted directly in terms of a fixed set of source variable names appearing in the program being analysed. This makes it an interesting topic of study and there is an abundance of literature employing heap abstractions. Although most studies have addressed similar concerns, their formulations and formalisms often seem dissimilar and some times even unrelated.
... s, the insights gained in one description of heap abstraction may not directly carry over to some other description. This survey is a result of our quest for a unifying theme in the existing descriptions of heap abstractions. In particular, our interest lies in the abstractions and not in the algorithms that construct them. In our search of a unified theme, we view a heap abstraction as consisting of two features: a heap model to represent the heap memory and a summarization technique for bounding the heap representation. We classify the models as storeless, store based, and hybrid. We describe various summarization techniques based on k-limiting, allocation sites, patterns, variables, other generic instrumentation predicates, and higher-order logics. This approach allows us to compare the insights of a large number of seemingly dissimilar heap abstractions and also paves way for creating new abstractions by mix-and-match of models and summarization techniques.