Symbolic Execution Game Semantics

Authors Yu-Yang Lin, Nikos Tzevelekos

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Author Details

Yu-Yang Lin
  • Queen Mary University of London, UK
Nikos Tzevelekos
  • Queen Mary University of London, UK


We would like to thank members of the K framework for their consistent support with K, and anonymous reviewers for their insightful reviews.

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Yu-Yang Lin and Nikos Tzevelekos. Symbolic Execution Game Semantics. In 5th International Conference on Formal Structures for Computation and Deduction (FSCD 2020). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 167, pp. 27:1-27:24, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2020)


We present a framework for symbolically executing and model checking higher-order programs with external (open) methods. We focus on the client-library paradigm and in particular we aim to check libraries with respect to any definable client. We combine traditional symbolic execution techniques with operational game semantics to build a symbolic execution semantics that captures arbitrary external behaviour. We prove the symbolic semantics to be sound and complete. This yields a bounded technique by imposing bounds on the depth of recursion and callbacks. We provide an implementation of our technique in the 𝕂 framework and showcase its performance on a custom benchmark based on higher-order coding errors such as reentrancy bugs.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Theory of computation → Semantics and reasoning
  • game semantics
  • symbolic execution
  • higher-order open programs


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