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Lightweight verification of separate compilation

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Peter Sewell.

NB: rescheduled from 2017/09/22

Major compiler verification efforts, such as the CompCert project, have traditionally simplified the verification problem by restricting attention to the correctness of whole-program compilation, leaving open the question of how to verify the correctness of separate compilation. Recently, a number of sophisticated techniques have been proposed for proving more flexible, compositional notions of compiler correctness, but these approaches tend to be quite heavyweight compared to the simple “closed simulations” used in verifying whole-program compilation. Applying such techniques to a compiler like CompCert, as Stewart have done, involves major changes and extensions to its original verification.

In this talk, I will show that if we aim somewhat lower—to prove correctness of separate compilation, but only for a single compiler—we can drastically simplify the proof effort. Toward this end, we develop several lightweight techniques that recast the compositional verification problem in terms of whole-program compilation, thereby enabling us to largely reuse the closed-simulation proofs from existing compiler verifications. We demonstrate the effectiveness of these techniques by applying them to CompCert 2.4, converting its verification of whole-program compilation into a verification of separate compilation in less than two person-months. This conversion only required a small number of changes to the original proofs, and uncovered two compiler bugs along the way. The result is SepCompCert, the first verification of separate compilation for the full CompCert compiler.

This work was published at POPL 16 and more information can be found at the following page.

This talk is part of the Logic and Semantics Seminar (Computer Laboratory) series.

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