Thursday, March 14, 2002

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. Furtheremore, 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 13 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. 2


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