On the Use of Underspecified Data-Type Semantics for Type Safety in Low-Level Code
In recent projects on operating-system verification, C and C++ data types are often formalized using a semantics that does not fully specify the precise byte encoding of objects. It is well-known that such underspecified data-type semantics can be used to detect certain kinds of type errors. In general, however, underspecified data-type semantics are unsound: they assign well-defined meaning to programs that have undefined behavior according to the C and C++ language standards. A precise characterization of the type-correctness properties that can be enforced with underspecified data-type semantics is still missing. In this paper, the authors identify strengths and weaknesses of underspecified datatype semantics for ensuring type safety of low-level systems code.