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Static Performance Guarantees for Programs with Run-time Checks


Instrumenting programs for performing runtime checking of properties, such as regular shapes, is a common and useful technique that helps programmers detect incorrect program behaviors. This is especially true in dynamic languages such as Prolog. However, such runtime checks inevitably introduce runtime overhead (in execution time, memory, energy, etc.). Several approaches have been proposed for reducing this overhead, such as eliminating the checks that can statically be proved to always succeed, and/or optimizing the way in which the (remaining) checks are performed. However, there are cases in which it is not possible to remove all checks statically (e.g., open libraries which must check their interfaces, complex properties, unknown code, etc.) and in which, even after optimizations, these remaining checks may still introduce an unacceptable level of overhead. It is thus important for programmers to be able to determine the additional cost due to the runtime checks and compare it to some notion of admissible cost. The common practice used for estimating runtime checking overhead is profiling, which is not exhaustive by nature. Instead, we propose a method that uses static analysis to estimate such overhead, with the advantage that the estimations are functions parameterized by input data sizes. Unlike profiling, this approach can provide guarantees for all possible execution traces, and allows assessing how the overhead grows as the size of the input grows. Our method also extends an existing assertion verification framework to express «admissible» overheads, and statically and automatically checks whether the instrumented program conforms with such specifications. Finally, we present an experimental evaluation of our approach that suggests that our method is feasible and promising.

Palabras Clave:

abstract interpretation - Assertions - Constraint Logic Programming - Program analysis - Resource Usage Analysis - Run-time Checks





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