Yi Li bio photo

Yi Li

Associate Professor

College of Computing and Data Science (CCDS)
Nanyang Technological University (NTU)

Address: Block N4-02b-63
50 Nanyang Avenue, Singapore 639798
Phone: +65 6790 4287

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EndWatch: A Practical Method for Detecting Non-Termination in Real-World Software

Yao Zhang, Xiaofei Xie, Yi Li, Sen Chen, Cen Zhang, and Xiaohong Li

In Proceedings of the 38th IEEE/ACM International Conference on Automated Software Engineering (ASE), 2023

Abstract: Detecting non-termination is crucial for ensuring program correctness and security, such as preventing denial-of-service attacks. While termination analysis has been studied for many years, existing methods have limited scalability and are only effective on small programs. To address this issue, we propose a practical termination checking technique, called EndWatch, for detecting non-termination through testing. Specifically, we introduce two methods to generate non-termination oracles based on checking state revisits, i.e., if the program returns to a previously visited state at the same program location, it does not terminate. The non-termination oracles can be incorporated into testing tools (e.g., AFL used in this paper) to detect non-termination in large programs. For linear loops, we perform symbolic execution on individual loops to infer State Revisit Conditions (SRC) and instrument SRC into target loops. For non-linear loops, we instrument target loops for checking concrete state revisits during execution. We evaluated EndWatch on standard benchmarks with small-sized programs and real-world projects with large-sized programs. The evaluation results show that EndWatch is more effective than the state-of-the-art tools on standard benchmarks (detecting 87% of non-terminating programs while the best baseline detects only 67%), and useful in detecting non-termination in real-world projects (detecting 90% of known non-termination CVEs and 4 unknown bugs).

Cite:

@inproceedings{Zhang2023EAP,
  author = {Zhang, Yao and Xie, Xiaofei and Li, Yi and Chen, Sen and Zhang, Cen and Li, Xiaohong},
  booktitle = {Proceedings of the 38th IEEE/ACM International Conference on Automated Software Engineering (ASE)},
  month = sep,
  title = {{EndWatch}: A Practical Method for Detecting Non-Termination in Real-World Software},
  year = {2023}
}
Paper