Optimistic Hybrid Analysis: Accelerating Dynamic Analysis through Predicated Static Analysis

David Devecsery, Peter M. Chen, Jason Flinn, and Satish Narayanasamy



Dynamic analysis tools, such as those that detect data-races, verify memory safety, and identify information flow, have become a vital part of testing and debugging complex software systems. While these tools are powerful, their slow speed often limits how effectively they can be deployed in practice. Hybrid analysis speeds up these tools by using static analysis to decrease the work performed during dynamic analysis.

In this paper we argue that current hybrid analysis is needlessly hampered by an incorrect assumption that preserving the soundness of dynamic analysis requires an underlying sound static analysis. We observe that, even with unsound static analysis, it is possible to achieve sound dynamic analysis for the executions which fall within the set of states statically considered. This leads us to a new approach, called optimistic hybrid analysis. We first profile a small set of executions and generate a set of likely invariants that hold true during most, but not necessarily all, executions. Next, we apply a much more precise, but unsound, static analysis that assumes these invariants hold true. Finally, we run the resulting dynamic analysis speculatively while verifying whether the assumed invariants hold true during that particular execution; if not, the program is reexecuted with a traditional hybrid analysis.

Optimistic hybrid analysis is as precise and sound as traditional dynamic analysis, but is typically much faster because (1) unsound static analysis can speed up dynamic analysis much more than sound static analysis can and (2) verifications rarely fail. We apply optimistic hybrid analysis to race detection and program slicing and achieve 1.8x over a state-of-the-art race detector (FastTrack) optimized with traditional hybrid analysis and 8.3x over a hybrid backward slicer (Giri).