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Pointer Analysis

What memory locations can a pointer refer to?

Alias analysis: When do two pointer expressions refer to the same storage location?

Aliasing can arise due to

  • Pointers
  • Call-by-ref
  • Array Indexing

Pointer analysis is useful in

  • Available Expressions
  • Constant Propagation

Flow-sensitive v.s. flow-insensitive

The former one will compute for each program point what memory locations some pointer expr might refer to

The later one will determine at some moment during execution.


May analysis: aliasing that may occur during execution (cf. must-not alias, although often has different representation)

Must analysis: aliasing that must occur during execution

Sometimes both are useful

  • E.g., Consider liveness analysis for p = q + 4;
  • If *p must alias x, then x in kill set for statement
  • If *q may alias y, then y in gen set for statement

Why above?