Write a Blog >>
SPLASH 2019
Sun 20 - Fri 25 October 2019 Athens, Greece

Energy-harvesting devices operate on energy collected from their environment and must operate intermittently as energy is available. Runtime systems for such devices often rely on checkpoints or redo-logs to save execution state between power cycles, causing arbitrary code regions
to re-execute on reboot. Any non-idempotent program behavior—behavior that can change on each execution—can lead to incorrect results.

This work investigates non-idempotent behavior caused by repeating I/O operations, not addressed by prior work. If such operations affect a control statement or address of a memory update, they can cause programs to take different paths or write to different memory locations on re-executions, resulting in inconsistent memory states. We provide the first characterization of input-dependent idempotence bugs and develop IBIS-S, a program analysis tool for detecting such bugs at compile time, and IBIS-D, a dynamic information flow tracker to detect bugs at runtime.

These tools use taint propagation to determine the reach of input. IBIS-S searches for code patterns leading to inconsistent memory updates, and IBIS-D detects concrete memory inconsistencies. We evaluate IBIS on embedded system drivers and applications. IBIS can detect I/O-dependent idempotence bugs, giving few (IBIS-S) or no (IBIS-D) false positives and providing actionable bug reports. These bugs are common in sensor-driven applications and are not fixed by existing intermittent systems.