Your first analysis

This is a tutorial exercise for writing analyses in Goblint. We will implement a very simple sign analysis. You need to install Goblint for development.

First test

We will analyze the following C program. It is not the most complicated program one could imagine, but we have to start somewhere.

#include <assert.h>

int main() {
  int x;
  int unknown;

  if (unknown) {
    x = -5;
  } else {
    x = -7;

  // The above code branches on an uninitialized variable.
  // The value of x could be either -5 or -7.

  assert(x < 0); // TODO: Thus, this assertion should hold!

  return 0;

This program is in the Goblint repository: tests/regression/99-tutorials/01-first.c. But if you run Goblint out of the box on this example, it will not work:

./goblint tests/regression/99-tutorials/01-first.c

This will claim that the assertion in unknown. Goblint could verify that this assertion does hold using interval analysis (--enable, but here we will implement a simple sign analysis instead.

Starting point

We begin with the flawed implementation in src/analyses/tutorials/ If you immediately try to run Goblint with the new analysis enabled: --set "ana.activated[+]" signs. The result will still be that nothing is verified, so you need to fix all the problems in the code.

It may still be useful to use Goblint's HTML output to see the result of the analysis. This will also include Goblint's base analysis, which is needed to deal with function calls.

Designing the domain

We first need to design the abstract domain. It may help if you have read some theoretical tutorial on abstract domains. Our first sign lattice will simply contain the elements {-, 0, +} with top and bottom added. These elements are defined in the module Signs and then we define the sign lattice SL by adding bottom and top elements. This is done by the functor Lattice.Flat. You should look at the following functions and fix their problems.

  1. of_int i should abstract integers to their best representation in our abstract domain. Our sign domain can distinguish positive, negative and zero values, so do it right!
  2. lt x y should answer true if the value represented by x is definitely less than the value represented by y. There seems to be a crucial case missing here in the otherwise excellent implementation...

We will represent the abstract state of the program as a map from variables to the newly created sign domain.

module D = MapDomain.MapBot (Basetype.Variables) (SL)

Implementing the sign analysis

The key part now is to define transfer functions for assignment. We only handle assignments of the form x = e wherex is variable whose address is never taken and the right-hand side e is itself either a constant of type integer or a plain variable. There is no need to implement the transfer functions for branching for this example; it only relies on lattice join operations to correctly take both paths into account.

The assignment relies on the function eval, which is almost there. It just needs you to fix the evaluation of constants! Unless you jumped straight to this line, it should not be too complicated to fix this. With this in place, we should have sufficient information to tell Goblint that the assertion does hold (run make to compile the updated analysis in Goblint).

For more information on the signature of the individual transfer functions, please check out module type Spec documentation in src/framework/

Extending the domain

You could now enrich the lattice to also have a representation for non-negative (i.e., zero or positive) values. Then the join of Zero and Pos would be "non-negative" instead of Top, allowing you to prove that such join is greater than Neg. For example, have a look at the following program: tests/regression/99-tutorials/02-first-extend.c.

Hint: The easiest way to do this is to use the powerset lattice of {-, 0, +}. For example, "non-negative" is represented by {0, +}, while negative is represented by {-}. To do this, modify SL by using SetDomain.FiniteSet (which needs a finite list of elements to be added to Signs) instead of Lattice.Flat and reimplementing the two functions using singleton and for_all.