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Gu, Zuxing, Zhou, Min, Wu, Jiecheng, Jiang, Yu, Liu, Jiaxiang, Gu, Ming.  2019.  IMSpec: An Extensible Approach to Exploring the Incorrect Usage of APIs. 2019 International Symposium on Theoretical Aspects of Software Engineering (TASE). :216—223.
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) usually have usage constraints, such as call conditions or call orders. Incorrect usage of these constraints, called API misuse, will result in system crashes, bugs, and even security problems. It is crucial to detect such misuses early in the development process. Though many approaches have been proposed over the last years, recent studies show that API misuses are still prevalent, especially the ones specific to individual projects. In this paper, we strive to improve current API-misuse detection capability for large-scale C programs. First, We propose IMSpec, a lightweight domain-specific language enabling developers to specify API usage constraints in three different aspects (i.e., parameter validation, error handling, and causal calling), which are the majority of API-misuse bugs. Then, we have tailored a constraint guided static analysis engine to automatically parse IMSpec rules and detect API-misuse bugs with rich semantics. We evaluate our approach on widely used benchmarks and real-world projects. The results show that our easily extensible approach performs better than state-of-the-art tools. We also discover 19 previously unknown bugs in real-world open-source projects, all of which have been confirmed by the corresponding developers.
Gu, Zuxing, Wu, Jiecheng, Liu, Jiaxiang, Zhou, Min, Gu, Ming.  2019.  An Empirical Study on API-Misuse Bugs in Open-Source C Programs. 2019 IEEE 43rd Annual Computer Software and Applications Conference (COMPSAC). 1:11—20.
Today, large and complex software is developed with integrated components using application programming interfaces (APIs). Correct usage of APIs in practice presents a challenge due to implicit constraints, such as call conditions or call orders. API misuse, i.e., violation of these constraints, is a well-known source of bugs, some of which can cause serious security vulnerabilities. Although researchers have developed many API-misuse detectors over the last two decades, recent studies show that API misuses are still prevalent. In this paper, we provide a comprehensive empirical study on API-misuse bugs in open-source C programs. To understand the nature of API misuses in practice, we analyze 830 API-misuse bugs from six popular programs across different domains. For all the studied bugs, we summarize their root causes, fix patterns and usage statistics. Furthermore, to understand the capabilities and limitations of state-of-the-art static analysis detectors for API-misuse detection, we develop APIMU4C, a dataset of API-misuse bugs in C code based on our empirical study results, and evaluate three widely-used detectors on it qualitatively and quantitatively. We share all the findings and present possible directions towards more powerful API-misuse detectors.
Li, Chi, Zhou, Min, Gu, Zuxing, Gu, Ming, Zhang, Hongyu.  2019.  Ares: Inferring Error Specifications through Static Analysis. 2019 34th IEEE/ACM International Conference on Automated Software Engineering (ASE). :1174–1177.
Misuse of APIs happens frequently due to misunderstanding of API semantics and lack of documentation. An important category of API-related defects is the error handling defects, which may result in security and reliability flaws. These defects can be detected with the help of static program analysis, provided that error specifications are known. The error specification of an API function indicates how the function can fail. Writing error specifications manually is time-consuming and tedious. Therefore, automatic inferring the error specification from API usage code is preferred. In this paper, we present Ares, a tool for automatic inferring error specifications for C code through static analysis. We employ multiple heuristics to identify error handling blocks and infer error specifications by analyzing the corresponding condition logic. Ares is evaluated on 19 real world projects, and the results reveal that Ares outperforms the state-of-the-art tool APEx by 37% in precision. Ares can also identify more error specifications than APEx. Moreover, the specifications inferred from Ares help find dozens of API-related bugs in well-known projects such as OpenSSL, among them 10 bugs are confirmed by developers. Video: Repository: