Abstract Interpretation engine in SeaHorn
SeaHorn and Crab-llvm

Abstract Interpretation is a very powerful technique to infer inductive invariants from transition systems. We show how SeaHorn can be combined with Crab-llvm, a tool that infers invariants from LLVM bitcode based on abstract interpretation, to strengthen the invariants inferred by spacer, the PDR/IC3 back-end solver. Consider the next example crab1.c:

#include "seahorn.h"
extern int nd();

int main (){
  int x = 1;
  int y = 0;
  int n = nd();
  assume (n > 0);
  while (nd() && x < n) {
  sassert (x>=y);
  return 0;

If we run the command:

sea pf -O0 crab1.c --show-invars

You will notice that SeaHorn is unresponsive for a while. In fact, SeaHorn will never give you an answer!

To mitigate this, we can tell SeaHorn to call crab-llvm and use all the invariants inferred by crab-llvm as lemmas in spacer:

sea pf -O0 crab1.c --show-invars --crab --crab-dom=int

You should see that SeaHorn can now produce an answer. These are the safe invariants produced by spacer together with crab-llvm:


Function: main
main@entry: true
main@verifier.error.split: false

In this example, spacer could not find an inductive strengthening of the property x >= y. However, crab-llvm can infer using classical intervals the inductive invariant y >= 0 which is not enough to prove the property but when in conjunction with x >= y it suffices to prove the program is safe.

Another example where spacer can substantially benefit from abstract interpretation is when universal quantifiers are needed to prove a property. Consider the next example crab2:

#include "seahorn.h"
extern int nd();

#define MAX 100
int main () {
  int n = nd();
  assume (n > 0 && n < MAX);
  int a[MAX];
  int i;
  for (i=0;i<n;i++) {

#ifndef FORALL
  sassert (a[n-1] >= 0);
  int j;
  for (j=0;j<n;j++) {
    sassert (a[j] >= 0);
  return 0;

If the following command is executed:

sea pf crab2.c --show-invars

then, SeaHorn proves the program is safe. Let us try now the following command:

sea pf crab2.c -DFORALL --show-invars

In this case, we don’t get an answer in a reasonable amount of time. The reason is that we are trying to prove that all elements in the array are positive. This is tantamount to infer an universally quantified invariant over all array cells. This is currently beyond the capabilities of spacer. However, crab-llvm provides several array domains that can easily infer invariants like the one we need for our example.

We can instruct SeaHorn to call crab-llvm with an array domain using intervals to model array contents as follows:

sea pf crab2.c -DFORALL --show-invars  --crab --crab-track=arr --crab-dom=int

However, note that we don’t get an answer yet. The reason is that even if crab-llvm infers that all elements of the array between [0,n) is greater or equal than 0, spacer does not support lemmas with quantifiers. Therefore, it seems that our effort of computing universally quantified invariants using crab-llvm is futile. The solution adopted in SeaHorn is to perform explicit instantiation of the universally quantified invariants inferred by crab-llvm so that spacer can digest them as quantifier-free lemmas. To do that, for each read v := a[i] of an array a we insert an assumption assume (p(v)) where p is the property that holds universally on each array element, and therefore it must hold on the particular read element a[i]. If we execute the command:

sea pf crab2.c -DFORALL --show-invars  --crab --crab-track=arr --crab-dom=int --crab-add-invariants=after-load  --oll=crab2.ll

we can quickly get the following answer:


Function: main
main@.lr.ph: true
main@precall.split: false
Written by SeaHorn on 29 May 2017