An Executable Formal Semantics of C with Applications

Chucky Ellison and Grigore Rosu
Technical Report July 2011
PDF BIB C Semantics

Abstract. This paper describes an executable formal semantics of C. Being executable, the semantics has been thoroughly tested against the GCC torture test suite and successfully passes 770 of 776 test programs. It is the most complete and thoroughly tested formal definition of C to date. The semantics yields an interpreter, debugger, state space search tool, and model checker "for free". The semantics is shown capable of automatically finding program errors, both statically and at runtime. It is also used to enumerate nondeterministic behavior.