Michael Reif

Software Technology Group @ TU Darmstadt

Call graph construction for Java libraries

by Michael Reif, Michael Eichberg, Ben Hermann, Johannes Lerch, and Mira Mezini

Abstract: Today, every application uses software libraries. Yet, while a lot of research exists w.r.t. analyzing applications, research that targets the analysis of libraries independent of any application is scarce. This is unfortunate, because, for developers of libraries, such as the Java Development Kit (JDK), it is crucial to ensure that the library behaves as intended regardless of how it is used. To fill this gap, we discuss the construction of call graphs for libraries that abstract over all potential library usages. Call graphs are particularly relevant as they are a precursor of many advanced analyses, such as inter-procedural data-flow analyses. We show that the current practice of using call graph algorithms designed for applications to analyze libraries leads to call graphs that, at the same time, lack relevant call edges and contain unnecessary edges. This motivates the need for call graph construction algorithms dedicated to libraries. Unlike algorithms for applications, call graph construction algorithms for libraries must take into consideration the goals of subsequent analyses. Specifically, we show that it is essential to distinguish between the scenario of an analysis for potential exploitable vulnerabilities from the scenario of an analysis for general software quality attributes, e.g., dead methods or unused fields. This distinction affects the decision about what constitutes the library-private implementation, which therefore, needs special treatment. Thus, building one call graph that satisfies all needs is not sensical. Overall, we observed that the proposed call graph algorithms reduce the number of call edges up to 30% when compared to existing approaches.



@inproceedings {REHM16,
  title = {{Call graph construction for Java libraries}},
  author = {Reif, Michael and Eichberg, Michael and Hermann, Ben and Lerch, Johannes and Mezini, Mira},
  booktitle = {{Proceedings of the 2016 24th ACM SIGSOFT International Symposium on Foundations of Software Engineering}},
  series = {FSE 2016},
  pages = {474-486},
  year = {2016},
  doi = {10.1145/2950290.2950312},
  url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2950290.2950312},