Analysis of Low-Level Code Using Cooperating Decompilers

Bor-Yuh Evan Chang (University of California, Berkeley), Matthew Harren (University of California, Berkeley) and George C. Necula (University of California, Berkeley)


We present a modular framework for building assembly-language program analyzers by using a pipeline of decompilers that gradually lift the level of the language to something appropriate for source-level analysis tools. Each decompilation stage contains an abstract interpreter that encapsulates its findings about the program by translating the program into a higher-level intermediate language. For the hardest decompilation tasks a decompiler may request information from higher-level stages in the pipeline.

We provide evidence for the modularity of this framework through the implementation of multiple decompilation pipelines for both x86 and MIPS assembly produced by gcc, gcj, and coolc (a compiler for a pedagogical mini-Java language) that share several low-level components. Finally, we discuss our experimental results that apply the BLAST model checker for C and the Cqual analyzer to decompiled assembly.