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Tutorial One

Testing a Small Function

This tutorial walks you through the main steps needed to test a simple function with KLEE. Here is our simple function:

int get_sign(int x) {
  if (x == 0)
    return 0;

  if (x < 0)
    return -1;
    return 1;

You can find the entire code for this example in the source tree under examples/get_sign. A version of the source code can also be accessed here.

Marking input as symbolic

In order to test this function with KLEE, we need to run it on symbolic input. To mark a variable as symbolic, we use the klee_make_symbolic() function (defined in klee/klee.h), which takes three arguments: the address of the variable (memory location) that we want to treat as symbolic, its size, and a name (which can be anything). Here is a simple main() function that marks a variable a as symbolic and uses it to call get_sign():

int main() {
  int a;
  klee_make_symbolic(&a, sizeof(a), "a");
  return get_sign(a);

Compiling to LLVM bitcode

KLEE operates on LLVM bitcode. To run a program with KLEE, you first compile it to LLVM bitcode using clang -emit-llvm.

From within the examples/get_sign directory:

$ clang -I ../../include -emit-llvm -c -g -O0 -Xclang -disable-O0-optnone get_sign.c

which should create a get_sign.bc file in LLVM bitcode format. The -I argument is used so that the compiler can find klee/klee.h, which contains definitions for the intrinsic functions used to interact with the KLEE virtual machine, such as klee_make_symbolic. It is useful to build with -g to add debug information to the bitcode file, which we use to generate source line level statistics information.

The bitcode passed to KLEE should not be optimised, because we hand-picked the correct optimisations for KLEE which can be enabled with KLEE’s --optimize command line option. However, in newer LLVM versions ( > 5.0) the -O0 zero flag should NOT be used when compiling for KLEE as it prevents KLEE from doing its own optimisations. -O0 -Xclang -disable-O0-optnone should be used instead, see this issue for more details.

If you do not wish to replay the test cases as described later and don’t care about debug information and optimisation, you can delete the klee/klee.h include and then compile get_sign.c with:

$ clang -emit-llvm -c get_sign.c

However, we recommend using the longer command above.

Running KLEE

To run KLEE on the bitcode file simply execute:

$ klee get_sign.bc

You should see the following output:

KLEE: output directory = "klee-out-0"

KLEE: done: total instructions = 33
KLEE: done: completed paths = 3
KLEE: done: partially completed paths = 0
KLEE: done: generated tests = 3

There are three paths through our simple function, one where a is 0, one where it is less than 0 and one where it is greater than 0. As expected, KLEE informs us that it explored three paths in the program and generated one test case for each path explored. For larger programs, KLEE might not be able to explore each path to its end due to time or memory constraints. In that case, it also informs us about the number of interrupted (partially completed) paths. The output of a KLEE execution is a directory (in our case klee-out-0) containing the test cases generated by KLEE. KLEE names the output directory klee-out-N where N is the lowest available number (so if we run KLEE again it will create a directory called klee-out-1), and also generates a symbolic link called klee-last to this directory for convenience:

$ ls klee-last/
assembly.ll      run.istats       test000002.ktest
info             run.stats        test000003.ktest
messages.txt     test000001.ktest warnings.txt

Please click here if you would like an overview of the files generated by KLEE. In this tutorial, we only focus on the actual test files generated by KLEE.

KLEE-generated test cases

Test cases generated by KLEE are written into files with .ktest extension. These are binary files which can be read with the ktest-tool utility. ktest-tool outputs different representations for the same object, for instance Python byte strings (data), integers (int) or ascii text (text). So let’s examine each file:

$ ktest-tool klee-last/test000001.ktest
ktest file : 'klee-last/test000001.ktest'
args       : ['get_sign.bc']
num objects: 1
object 0: name: 'a'
object 0: size: 4
object 0: data: b'\x00\x00\x00\x00'
object 0: hex : 0x00000000
object 0: int : 0
object 0: uint: 0
object 0: text: ....

$ ktest-tool klee-last/test000002.ktest
ktest file : 'klee-last/test000002.ktest'
args       : ['get_sign.bc']
num objects: 1
object 0: name: 'a'
object 0: size: 4
object 0: data: b'\x01\x01\x01\x01'
object 0: hex : 0x01010101
object 0: int : 16843009
object 0: uint: 16843009
object 0: text: ....

$ ktest-tool klee-last/test000003.ktest
ktest file : 'klee-last/test000003.ktest'
args       : ['get_sign.bc']
num objects: 1
object 0: name: 'a'
object 0: size: 4
object 0: data: b'\x00\x00\x00\x80'
object 0: hex : 0x00000080
object 0: int : -2147483648
object 0: uint: 2147483648
object 0: text: ....

In each test file, KLEE reports the arguments with which the program was invoked (in our case no arguments other than the program name itself), the number of symbolic objects on that path (only one in our case), the name of our symbolic object ('a') and its size (4). The actual test itself is represented by the value of our input: 0 for the first test, 16843009 for the second and -2147483648 for the last one. As expected, KLEE generated value 0, one positive value (16843009), and one negative value (-2147483648). We can now run these values on a native version of our program to exercise all paths through the code!

Replaying a test case

While we can run the test cases generated by KLEE on our program by hand, (or with the help of an existing test infrastructure), KLEE provides a convenient replay library, which simply replaces the call to klee_make_symbolic with a call to a function that assigns to our input the value stored in the .ktest file. To use it, simply link your program with the libkleeRuntest library and set the KTEST_FILE environment variable to point to the name of the desired test case:

$ export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=path-to-klee-build-dir/lib/:$LD_LIBRARY_PATH
$ gcc -I ../../include -L path-to-klee-build-dir/lib/ get_sign.c -lkleeRuntest
$ KTEST_FILE=klee-last/test000001.ktest ./a.out
$ echo $?
$ KTEST_FILE=klee-last/test000002.ktest ./a.out
$ echo $?
$ KTEST_FILE=klee-last/test000003.ktest ./a.out
$ echo $?

As expected, our program returns 0 when running the first test case, 1 when running the second one, and 255 (-1 converted to a valid exit code value in the 0-255 range) when running the last one.