Statically Safe Program Generation with SafeGen

Shan Shan Huang, David Zook, Yannis Smaragdakis. Statically Safe Program Generation with SafeGen. Science of Computer Programming, 76(5):376-391, May 2011. [doi]


SafeGen is a meta-programming language for writing statically safe generators of Java programs. If a program generator written in SafeGen passes the checks of the SafeGen compiler, then the generator will only generate well-formed Java programs, for any generator input. In other words, statically checking the generator guarantees the correctness of any generated program, with respect to static checks commonly performed by a conventional compiler (including type safety, existence of a superclass, etc.). To achieve this guarantee, SafeGen supports only language primitives for reflection over an existing well-formed Java program, primitives for creating program fragments, and a restricted set of constructs for iteration, conditional actions, and name generation. SafeGen’s static checking algorithm is a combination of traditional type checking for Java, and a series of calls to a theorem prover to check the validity of first-order logical sentences constructed to represent well-formedness properties of the generated program under all inputs. The approach has worked quite well in our tests, providing proofs for correct generators or pointing out interesting bugs.