Rust SmallVec
An array-backed alternative to the standard library vector class, expandable with heap allocations.

SmallVec is an alternative to tinyvec that provides an array-backed vector implementation but also allows the vector to be expanded at run time by allocating more memory on the heap. This saves time over a normal vector by minimizing the number of allocations required and keeping most of the vector in a fixed capacity array.

To test whether SmallVec could be used for verification of Rust programs using SeaHorn, I created verification jobs for each of the methods.


Since the fixed capacity of SmallVec is constant and must be known at compile time, it isn’t possible to verify the class for non-deterministic capacities. In addition, SeaHorn takes a long time to run for certain tests, so I had to limit the capacity to very small values, as low as 2, in some cases.

Test Format

I wrote the tests for SmallVec in a very similar format to the tests for tinyvec. I identified all different ways they could behave under different circumstances. Some examples include empty vectors and vectors at capacity that need dynamic allocation for further operations. I also identified where methods should panic and tested for this by putting them at the end of a test with a sea::sassert!(false) directly after. The only way this assertion coud be reached is if the operations executed successfuly, allowing it to test whether they panicked or not.

Example: test_pop

fn test_pop() {
    let mut v: SmallVec<[u32; 8]> = SmallVec::new();

    let len: usize = sea::nd_usize();
    sea::assume(len > 0 && len <= 8);

    for _i in 0..len {

    for i in 0..len {
        sea::sassert!(v.len() == len - i - 1);

    let result: Option<u32> = v.pop();

In this example, I push non-deterministic values to a vector in a loop of non-deterministic size. I then pop each of the values off the vector and assert that the length is correct after each pop. Finally, I pop one more value off the vector when it is empty and assert that the result is None.


For several tests, I was facing issues where SeaHorn was not reaching certain points in the code. After debugging this issue, I determined that it was being caused by loops not unrolling completely. For most of the tests, I push non-deterministic values to the vector in a loop to initialize it for testing. All of the tests using loops like this were only having one iteration unrolled, essentially limiting the length of the vector to 1. I was able to fix this issue by using the bound option and setting it to whatever capacity was being used for the vector in that specific case.

Another issue that I faced was that SeaHorn was having issues with verification whenever the vectors went beyond their fixed capacity and required more memory allocated on the heap. Even if only one additional space in a vector is required, a very large alloca expression is generated, causing SeaHorn to take excessive time to get through this stage and in many cases failing. Through debugging, I determined that the expressions being generated were so large that my computer was running out of memory when trying to print them. This issue was fixed by limiting the size of expressions that can be printed and printing a placeholder string whenever they are over the limit. This fix can be found here.

Custom Allocation Function

Through various tests, I was able to determine that the issue I was facing with the large alloca expressions was being caused by the try_reserve function in the SmallVec class. The logic to determine the size of the allocation was using a function to determine the next power of 2 which generated all of the logic in the alloca calls. To eliminate this issue, I modified the source code for SmallVec to instead use this logic to determine the size of the allocation:

let new_cap: usize = if cap <= 8 {
} else {

As I only used vectors of size 8 or less in my verification jobs, this was a sufficient compromise to allow the tests to run successfully. Not only did this custom allocation logic eliminate the issue with the large alloca expressions, but it also significantly improved on run times, especially on some of the longer tests.

Source Code

Full source code for the tests can be found here under the directories: smallvec, smallvec-bound2, smallvec-bound4 and smallvec-bound8. The tests that use the custom allocation function can be found under the directories: smallvec-allocation, smallvec-allocation-bound2, smallvec-allocation-bound4 and smallvec-allocation-bound8.

Written by SeaHorn on 31 August 2023