how do call graphs resolve function pointers?

I am implementing a call graph program for a C using perl script. I wonder how to resolve call graphs for function pointers using output of 'objdump'? How different call graph applications resolve function pointers? Are function pointers resolved at run time or they can be done statically?

EDIT How do call graphs resolve cycles in static evaluation of program?

Answers


It is easy to build a call graph of A-calls-B when the call statement explicitly mentions B. It is much harder to handle indirect calls, as you've noticed.

Good static analysis tools form estimates of the contents of pointer variables by propagating pointer assignments/copies/arithmetic across program data flows (inter and intra-procedural ["global"]) using a variety of schemes, often conservative ("you get too much").

Without such an estimate, you cannot have any idea what a pointer contains and therefore simply cannot make a useful prediction (well, you can use the ultimate conservative estimate that it will go anywhere, but I think you've already rejected that solution).

Our DMS Software Reengineering Toolkit has static control/dataflow/points-to/call graph analysis that has been applied to huge systems (~~25 million lines) of C code, and produced such call graphs. The machinery to do this is pretty complex but you can find it in advanced topics in the compiler literature. I doubt you want to implement this in Perl.

This is easier when you have source code, because you at least reliably know what is code, and what is not. You're trying to do this on object code, which means you can't even eliminate data.


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