Static detection of event-based races in Android apps

Yongjian Hu, Iulian Neamtiu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Event-based races are the main source of concurrency errors in Android apps. Prior approaches for scalable detection of event-based races have been dynamic. Due to their dynamic nature, these approaches suffer from coverage and false negative issues. We introduce a precise and scalable static approach and tool, named SIERRA, for detecting Android event-based races. SIERRA is centered around a new concept of "concurrency action" (that reifies threads, events/messages, system and user actions) and statically-derived order (happens-before relation) between actions. Establishing action order is complicated in Android, and event-based systems in general, because of externally-orchestrated control flow, use of callbacks, asynchronous tasks, and ad-hoc synchronization. We introduce several novel approaches that enable us to infer order relations statically: auto-generated code models which impose order among lifecycle and GUI events; a novel context abstraction for event-driven programs named action-sensitivity; and finally, on-demand path sensitivity via backward symbolic execution to further rule out false positives. We have evaluated SIERRA on 194 Android apps. Of these, we chose 20 apps for manual analysis and comparison with a state-of-the-art dynamic race detector. Experimental results show that SIERRA is effective and efficient, typically taking 960 seconds to analyze an app and revealing 43 potential races. Compared with the dynamic race detector, SIERRA discovered an average 29.5 true races with 3.5 false positives, where the dynamic detector only discovered 4 races (hence missing 25.5 races per app) - this demonstrates the advantage of a precise static approach. We believe that our approach opens the way for precise analysis and static event race detection in other event-driven systems beyond Android.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 23rd International Conference on Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems, ASPLOS 2018
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Pages257-270
Number of pages14
Volume53
Edition2
ISBN (Electronic)9781450349116
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 19 2018
Event23rd International Conference on Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems, ASPLOS 2018 - Williamsburg, United States
Duration: Mar 24 2018Mar 28 2018

Other

Other23rd International Conference on Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems, ASPLOS 2018
CountryUnited States
CityWilliamsburg
Period3/24/183/28/18

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science(all)

Keywords

  • Concurrency
  • Event-based race
  • Google Android
  • Happens-before
  • Mobile applications
  • Static analysis

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