Gillian, Part I

Parametric Symbolic Execution for Real-World Programming Languages


  • José Fragoso Santos

  • Petar Maksimović

  • Sacha-Élie Ayoun

  • Philippa Gardner


We introduce Gillian, a language-independent framework for the development of symbolic analysis tools. Gillian supports whole-program symbolic testing, semi-automatic verification, and automatic compositional testing using bi-abduction. It comes with meta-theoretical results that are parametric on the memory model of the target language and a modular implementation that closely follows the meta-theory, all designed to minimise the instantiation effort of the user. In this paper, we focus on the parametric symbolic execution engine at the core of Gillian and its associated meta-theory. We instantiate Gillian to obtain symbolic testing tools for JavaScript and C, and use these tools to find bugs in real-world code, with times that either outperform or are competitive with the existing language-specific tools.


PLDI 2020: Proceedings of the 41st ACM SIGPLAN Conference on Programming Language Design and Implementation

Publication Date

June 2020