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Efficient Reflection String Analysis via Graph Coloring

Authors Neville Grech, George Kastrinis, Yannis Smaragdakis

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Neville Grech
  • Dept. of Informatics and Telecommunications, University of Athens, Greece , and Dept. of Computer Science, University of Malta, Malta
George Kastrinis
  • Dept. of Informatics and Telecommunications, University of Athens, Greece
Yannis Smaragdakis
  • Dept. of Informatics and Telecommunications, University of Athens, Greece

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Neville Grech, George Kastrinis, and Yannis Smaragdakis. Efficient Reflection String Analysis via Graph Coloring. In 32nd European Conference on Object-Oriented Programming (ECOOP 2018). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 109, pp. 26:1-26:25, Schloss Dagstuhl - Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2018)


Static analyses for reflection and other dynamic language features have recently increased in number and advanced in sophistication. Most such analyses rely on a whole-program model of the flow of strings, through the stack and heap. We show that this global modeling of strings remains a major bottleneck of static analyses and propose a compact encoding, in order to battle unnecessary complexity. In our encoding, strings are maximally merged if they can never serve to differentiate class members in reflection operations. We formulate the problem as an instance of graph coloring and propose a fast polynomial-time algorithm that exploits the unique features of the setting (esp. large cliques, leading to hundreds of colors for realistic programs). The encoding is applied to two different frameworks for string-guided Java reflection analysis from past literature and leads to significant optimization (e.g., a ~2x reduction in the number of string-flow inferences), for a whole-program points-to analysis that uses strings.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Software and its engineering → Compilers
  • Theory of computation → Program analysis
  • Software and its engineering → General programming languages
  • reflection
  • static analysis
  • graph coloring


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