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1  Introduction

CIL has a Source Forge page: http://sourceforge.net/projects/cil.

CIL (C Intermediate Language) is a high-level representation along with a set of tools that permit easy analysis and source-to-source transformation of C programs.

CIL is both lower-level than abstract-syntax trees, by clarifying ambiguous constructs and removing redundant ones, and also higher-level than typical intermediate languages designed for compilation, by maintaining types and a close relationship with the source program. The main advantage of CIL is that it compiles all valid C programs into a few core constructs with a very clean semantics. Also CIL has a syntax-directed type system that makes it easy to analyze and manipulate C programs. Furthermore, the CIL front-end is able to process not only ANSI-C programs but also those using Microsoft C or GNU C extensions. If you do not use CIL and want instead to use just a C parser and analyze programs expressed as abstract-syntax trees then your analysis will have to handle a lot of ugly corners of the language (let alone the fact that parsing C itself is not a trivial task). See Section 16 for some examples of such extreme programs that CIL simplifies for you.

In essence, CIL is a highly-structured, “clean” subset of C. CIL features a reduced number of syntactic and conceptual forms. For example, all looping constructs are reduced to a single form, all function bodies are given explicit return statements, syntactic sugar like "->" is eliminated and function arguments with array types become pointers. (For an extensive list of how CIL simplifies C programs, see Section 4.) This reduces the number of cases that must be considered when manipulating a C program. CIL also separates type declarations from code and flattens scopes within function bodies. This structures the program in a manner more amenable to rapid analysis and transformation. CIL computes the types of all program expressions, and makes all type promotions and casts explicit. CIL supports all GCC and MSVC extensions except for nested functions and complex numbers. Finally, CIL organizes C’s imperative features into expressions, instructions and statements based on the presence and absence of side-effects and control-flow. Every statement can be annotated with successor and predecessor information. Thus CIL provides an integrated program representation that can be used with routines that require an AST (e.g. type-based analyses and pretty-printers), as well as with routines that require a CFG (e.g., dataflow analyses). CIL also supports even lower-level representations (e.g., three-address code), see Section 8.

CIL comes accompanied by a number of Perl scripts that perform generally useful operations on code:

CIL has been tested very extensively. It is able to process the SPECINT95 benchmarks, the Linux kernel, GIMP and other open-source projects. All of these programs are compiled to the simple CIL and then passed to gcc and they still run! We consider the compilation of Linux a major feat especially since Linux contains many of the ugly GCC extensions (see Section 16.2). This adds to about 1,000,000 lines of code that we tested it on. It is also able to process the few Microsoft NT device drivers that we have had access to. CIL was tested against GCC’s c-torture testsuite and (except for the tests involving complex numbers and inner functions, which CIL does not currently implement) CIL passes most of the tests. Specifically CIL fails 23 tests out of the 904 c-torture tests that it should pass. GCC itself fails 19 tests. A total of 1400 regression test cases are run automatically on each change to the CIL sources.

CIL is relatively independent on the underlying machine and compiler. When you build it CIL will configure itself according to the underlying compiler. However, CIL has only been tested on Intel x86 using the gcc compiler on Linux and cygwin and using the MS Visual C compiler. (See below for specific versions of these compilers that we have used CIL for.)

The largest application we have used CIL for is CCured, a compiler that compiles C code into type-safe code by analyzing your pointer usage and inserting runtime checks in the places that cannot be guaranteed statically to be type safe.

You can also use CIL to “compile” code that uses GCC extensions (e.g. the Linux kernel) into standard C code.

CIL also comes accompanies by a growing library of extensions (see Section 8). You can use these for your projects or as examples of using CIL.

PDF versions of this manual and the CIL API are available. However, we recommend the HTML versions because the postprocessed code examples are easier to view.

If you use CIL in your project, we would appreciate letting us know. If you want to cite CIL in your research writings, please refer to the paper “CIL: Intermediate Language and Tools for Analysis and Transformation of C Programs” by George C. Necula, Scott McPeak, S.P. Rahul and Westley Weimer, in “Proceedings of Conference on Compilier Construction”, 2002.

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