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Chapter: Compilers : Principles, Techniques, & Tools : Machine-Independent Optimizations

Foundations of Data-Flow Analysis

1 Semilattices 2 Transfer Functions 3 The Iterative Algorithm for General Frameworks 4 Meaning of a Data-Flow Solution

Foundations of Data-Flow Analysis

1 Semilattices

2 Transfer Functions

3 The Iterative Algorithm for General Frameworks

4 Meaning of a Data-Flow Solution


Having shown several useful examples of the data-flow abstraction, we now study the family of data-flow schemas as a whole, abstractly. We shall answer several basic questions about data-flow algorithms formally:


            Under what circumstances is the iterative algorithm used in data-flow analysis correct?



            How precise is the solution obtained by the iterative algorithm?


            Will the iterative algorithm converge?


            What is the meaning of the solution to the equations?


In Section 9.2, we addressed each of the questions above informally when describing the reaching-definitions problem. Instead of answering the same questions for each subsequent problem from scratch, we relied on analogies with the problems we had already discussed to explain the new problems. Here we present a general approach that answers all these questions, once and for all, rigorously, and for a large family of data-flow problems. We first iden-tify the properties desired of data-flow schemas and prove the implications of these properties on the correctness, precision, and convergence of the data-flow algorithm, as well as the meaning of the solution. Thus, to understand old algorithms or formulate new ones, we simply show that the proposed data-flow problem definitions have certain properties, and the answers to all the above difficult questions are available immediately.



The concept of having a common theoretical framework for a class of sche-mas also has practical implications. The framework helps us identify the reusable components of the algorithm in our software design. Not only is cod-ing effort reduced, but programming errors are reduced by not having to recode similar details several times.


A data-flow  analysis  framework (D,V,A:F)  consists  of

A direction of the data flow D, which is either F O R W A R D S  or B A C K W A R D S .

A semilattice (see Section 9.3.1 for the definition), which includes a do-main of values V and a meet operator A.

A family F of transfer functions from V to V. This family must include functions suitable for the boundary conditions, which are constant transfer functions for the special nodes E N T R Y  and E X I T  in any flow graph.


1. Semilattices

A semilattice is a set V and a binary meet operator A such that for all x, y, and z in V:

1    x A x — x (meet is idempotent).


2.  x Ay = y A x  (meet is  commutative).


3    x A (y A z) = (x A y) A z (meet is associative).


A semilattice has a top element, denoted T, such that


for all x in V, T A x — x.


Optionally, a semilattice may have a bottom element, denoted ±, such that


for all x in V, _L A x = ±.


Partial  Orders


As we shall see, the meet operator of a semilattice defines a partial order on the values of the domain. A relation < is a partial order on a set V if for all x, y, and z in V:

1. x < x (the partial order is reflexive).  

2. If x < y and y < x, then x = y  (the partial order is antisymmetric).

3. If x < y and y < z, then x < z  (the partial order is transitive).

The pair (V, <) is called a poset, or partially ordered set. It is also convenient to have a < relation for a poset, defined as x < y if and only if (x < y) and (x / y).

The Partial Order for a Semilattice

It is useful to define a partial order < for a semilattice (V, A).  For all x and y in V, we define

 x < y if and only if x A y = x.

Because the meet operator A is idempotent, commutative, and associative, the < order as defined is reflexive, antisymmetric, and transitive. To see why, observe that:

Reflexivity: for all x, x < x. The proof is that x A x = x since meet is idempotent.


•  Antisymmetry: if x <  y and  y  < x,  then x — y.   In  proof,  x  <  y means x Ay = x and y < x means y A x = y. By commutativity of A, x = (x Ay) = (y Ax) = y.    

•  Transitivity:  if x < y and y < z, then x < z.  In proof, x < y and y < z means that x A y = x and y A z  - y. Then  (x A z)  = ((x A y) A z) = (x A (y A z))  = (x A y) = x, using associativity of meet. Since x A z = x has been shown, we have x < z, proving transitivity.  

Example 9 . 1 8 :  The meet operators used in the examples in Section 9.2 are set union and set intersection. They are both idempotent, commutative, and associative. For set union, the top element is 0 and the bottom element is U, the universal  set,  since for any subset  xo£U,$Ux  = x  and  U U  x  =  U.  For set intersection, T is U and ± is 0. V, the domain of values of the semilattice, is the set of all subsets of U, which is sometimes called the power set of U and denoted 2U.


For all x and yinV,xUy = x implies x D y; therefore, the partial order imposed by set union is D, set inclusion. Correspondingly, the partial order imposed by set intersection is C, set containment. That is, for set intersection, sets with fewer elements are considered to be smaller in the partial order. How-ever, for set union, sets with more elements are considered to be smaller in the partial order. To say that sets larger in size are smaller in the partial order is counterintuitive; however, this situation is an unavoidable consequence of the definitions.6



As discussed in Section 9.2, there are usually many solutions to a set of data-flow equations, with the greatest solution (in the sense of the partial order <) being the most precise. For example, in reaching definitions, the most precise among all the solutions to the data-flow equations is the one with the smallest number of definitions, which corresponds to the greatest element in the partial order defined by the meet operation, union. In available expressions, the most precise solution is the one with the largest number of expressions. Again, it is the greatest solution in the partial order defined by intersection as the meet




G r e a t e s t  Lower       B o u n d s


There is another useful relationship between the meet operation and the partial ordering it imposes. Suppose (V, A) is a semilattice. A greatest lower bound (or gib) of domain elements x and y is an element g such that




            g < y, and


3. If z is any element such that z < x and z < y, then z < g.


It turns out that the meet of x and y is their only greatest lower bound. To see why, let g = x A y. Observe that:


6 And if we defined the partial order to be > instead of <, then the problem would surface when the meet was intersection, although not for union.


Joins, Lub's, and Lattices


In symmetry to the gib operation on elements of a poset, we may define the least upper bound (or lub) of elements x and y to be that element b such that x <b, y <b, and if z is any element such that x < z and y < z, then b < z. One can show that there is at most one such element b if it exists.


In a true lattice, there are two operations on domain elements, the meet A, which we have seen, and the operator join, denoted V, which gives the lub of two elements (which therefore must always exist in the lattice). We have been discussing only "semi" lattices, where only one of the meet and join operators exist. That is, our semilattices are meet semilattices. One could also speak of join semilattices, where only the join operator exists, and in fact some literature on program analysis does use the notation of join semilattices. Since the traditional data-flow literature speaks of meet semilattices, we shall also do so in this book.





            g < x because (x A y) A x = x A y. The proof involves simple uses of associativity, commutativity, and idempotence. That is,



g Ax = ((x A y) A x) — (x A (y A x)) =


(x A (x A y)) = ((x Ax) Ay) =


(x Ay) = g



            9 < y by a similar argument.


Suppose z is any element such that z < x and z < y.  We claim z < g, and therefore, z cannot be a gib of x and y unless it is also g. In proof: (zAg) = (zA (xAy))  — ((zAx) Ay).  Since z < x, we know (zAx)  = z, so (z Ag) = (z Ay).  Since z < y, we know z Ay = z, and therefore z Ag — z.

We have proven z < g and conclude g = x A y is the only gib of x and y.


Lattice Diagrams


It often helps to draw the domain V as a lattice diagram, which is a graph whose nodes are the elements of V, and whose edges are directed downward, from x to y if y < x. For example, Fig. 9.22 shows the set V for a reaching-definitions data-flow schema where there are three definitions: d±, d2, and d%. Since < is an edge is directed downward from any subset of these three definitions to each of its supersets. Since < is transitive, we conventionally omit the edge from x to y as long as there is another path from x to y left in the diagram. Thus, although {di,d2,dz} < {di}, we do not draw this edge since it is represented by the path through {di,d2}, for example.

It is also useful to note that we can read the meet off such diagrams. Since x A y is the gib, it is always the highest z for which there are paths downward to z from both x and y. For example, if x is {di} and y is { ^ 2 } , then z in Fig. 9.22 is {G?I,G?2}5 which makes sense, because the meet operator is union. The top element will appear at the top of the lattice diagram; that is, there is a path downward from T to each element. Likewise, the bottom element will appear at the bottom, with a path downward from every element to _L.



Product  Lattices


While Fig. 9.22 involves only three definitions, the lattice diagram of a typical program can be quite large. The set of data-flow values is the power set of the definitions, which therefore contains 2n elements if there are n definitions in the program. However, whether a definition reaches a program is independent of the reachability of the other definitions. We may thus express the lattice7 of definitions in terms of a "product lattice," built from one simple lattice for each definition. That is, if there were only one definition d in the program, then the lattice would have two elements: {}, the empty set, which is the top element, and {d}, which is the bottom element.

2. The meet  A for the product lattice is defined as follows.  If (a, b)  and (a1, b') are domain elements of the product lattice, then

So we might ask under what circumstances does (a AA a', bAB b') = (a, &)? That happens exactly when a A A a' — a and b AB b' — b. But these two conditions are the same as a <A OJ and b <B b'.

The product of lattices is an associative operation, so one can show that the rules (9.19) and (9.20) extend to any number of lattices. That is, if we are given lattices  (Ai, Ai) for i = 1, 2 , . . . , k, then the product of all k lattices, in this order, has domain A1 x A2    x • • • x Ak, a meet operator defined by

( a i , a 2 ) - • •  ,ak) A (h,b2,... ,bk) =  (ax    Ai  h,a2    A2 b2,... ,ak    Ak    h)

and a partial order defined by   

(oi, a2,... , ak) < (bi, b2,... , bk) if and only if a« < bi for all i.

Height  of a  Semilattice


We may learn something about the rate of convergence of a data-flow analysis algorithm by studying the "height" of the associated semilattice. An ascending chain in a poset (V, <) is a sequence where x1 < x2 < ... < xn. The height of a semilattice is the largest number of < relations in any ascending chain; that is, the height is one less than the number of elements in the chain. For


example, the height of the reaching definitions semilattice for a program with


n definitions is n.


Showing convergence of an iterative data-flow algorithm is much easier if the semilattice has finite height. Clearly, a lattice consisting of a finite set of values will have a finite height; it is also possible for a lattice with an infinite number of values to have a finite height. The lattice used in the constant propagation algorithm is one such example that we shall examine closely in Section 9.4.


2. Transfer Functions

The family of transfer functions F : V -» V in a data-flow framework has the following properties:

1. F has an identity function i", such that I(x) = x for all x in V.

2. F is closed under composition; that is, for any two functions / and g in F,  the function  h defined by  h(x) = g(f(x)) is in  F.



Monotone Frame works


To make an iterative algorithm for data-flow analysis work, we need for the data-flow framework to satisfy one more condition. We say that a framework is monotone if when we apply any transfer function / in F to two members of V, the first being no greater than the second, then the first result is no greater than the second result.

3. The Iterative Algorithm for General Frameworks


We can generalize Algorithm 9.11 to make it work for a large variety of data-flow problems.


Algorithm 9 . 2 5 :  Iterative solution to     general data-flow frameworks.

INPUT: A data-flow framework with the following components:

1.       A data-flow graph, with specially labeled E N T R Y and E X I T nodes,

2. A direction of the data-flow D,    

3.       A set of values V,

4.       A meet operator A,       

5.       A set of functions F, where fs  in F is the transfer function for block B,



            A constant value GENTRY or f EXIT in V, representing the boundary condition for forward and backward frameworks, respectively.


OUTPUT: Values in V for IN[B] and OUT [B] for each block B in the data-flow graph.


METHOD: The algorithms for solving forward and backward data-flow prob-lems are shown in Fig. 9.23(a) and 9.23(b), respectively. As with the familiar iterative data-flow algorithms from Section 9.2, we compute IN and O U T for each block by successive approximation. •



It is possible to write the forward and backward versions of Algorithm 9.25 so that a function implementing the meet operation is a parameter, as is a function that implements the transfer function for each block. The flow graph itself and the boundary value are also parameters. In this way, the compiler implementor can avoid recoding the basic iterative algorithm for each data-flow framework used by the optimization phase of the compiler.


We can use the abstract framework discussed so far to prove a number of useful properties of the iterative algorithm:


            If Algorithm 9.25 converges, the result is a solution to the data-flow equa-tions.



            If the framework is monotone, then the solution found is the maximum fixedpoint (MFP) of the data-flow equations. A maximum fixedpoint is a solution with the property that in any other solution, the values of IN[B] and O U T [B] are < the corresponding values of the MFP .


If the semilattice of the framework is monotone and of finite height, then the algorithm is guaranteed to converge.

We shall argue these points assuming that the framework is forward. The case of backwards frameworks is essentially the same. The first property is easy to show. If the equations are not satisfied by the time the while-loop ends, then there will be at least one change to an OUT (in the forward case) or IN (in the backward case), and we must go around the loop again.



4. Meaning of a Data-Flow Solution


We now know that the solution found using the iterative algorithm is the max-imum fixedpoint, but what does the result represent from a program-semantics point of view? To understand the solution of a data-flow framework (D, F, V, A), let us first describe what an ideal solution to the framework would be. We show that the ideal cannot be obtained in general, but that Algorithm 9.25 approxi-mates the ideal conservatively.



The  Ideal  Solution


Without loss of generality, we shall assume for now that the data-flow framework of interest is a forward-flowing problem. Consider the entry point of a basic block B. The ideal solution begins by finding all the possible execution paths leading from the program entry to the beginning of B. A path is "possible" only if there is some computation of the program that follows exactly that path. The ideal solution would then compute the data-flow value at the end of each possible path and apply the meet operator to these values to find their greatest lower bound. Then no execution of the program can produce a smaller value for that program point. In addition, the bound is tight; there is no greater data-flow value that is a gib for the value computed along every possible path to B in the flow graph.

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