crux-llvm: A verification tool for C programs.

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This tool (and corresponding C library) are intended for verifying C programs using verification specifications embedded in the input source files (i.e. it allows for writing Crucible specifications by using C as the specification language).

This tool provides:

  • a Haskell library with the core functionality,

  • a crux-llvm executable used to run the verification when given one or more C or C++ source files

  • a set of supplemental C source files, include files, and LLVM runtime library bitcode files to use for building the input C files into verifiable LLVM BC files.

  • a crux-llvm-svcomp executable that is designed to run verification of challenge inputs for the SV-COMP competition, generating results tailored to the format that SV-COMP expects.

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Versions [RSS] 0.8
Change log
Dependencies aeson, attoparsec, base (>=4.8 && <4.19), base16-bytestring, bv-sized, bytestring, config-schema (>=, containers, crucible, crucible-llvm, crucible-symio, crux, crux-llvm, cryptohash-sha256, directory, extra, filepath, indexed-traversable, lens, llvm-pretty, llvm-pretty-bc-parser, logict, lumberjack, mtl, parameterized-utils, prettyprinter (>=1.7.0), process, text, time, unix, websockets (>=0.12), what4 [details]
License BSD-3-Clause
Copyright (c) Galois, Inc 2014-2022
Author Galois Inc.
Category Language
Source repo head: git clone
Uploaded by ryanglscott at 2024-02-05T21:14:24Z
Reverse Dependencies 1 direct, 0 indirect [details]
Executables crux-llvm-svcomp, crux-llvm-for-ide, crux-llvm
Downloads 43 total (7 in the last 30 days)
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Status Docs available [build log]
Last success reported on 2024-02-05 [all 1 reports]

Readme for crux-llvm-0.8

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The crux-llvm tool (and corresponding C library) are intended for verifying C programs containing inline specifications (in the form of function calls to create non-deterministic values and assert properties). For more information about Crux itself, refer to the official website.

Licensing and bundled tools

crux-llvm is licensed under the 3-Clause BSD license. For more details, refer to the LICENSE file. Some binary distributions of crux-llvm come bundled with external compilers and SMT solvers:

  • clang and llvm-link (Apache v2.0 licensed)
  • CVC4 (BSD-3 licensed)
  • Yices (GPLv3 licensed)
  • Z3 (MIT licensed)

These tools are only invoked by crux-llvm as subprocesses. That is, crux-llvm does not link against any of these tools directly. As a result, crux-llvm adheres to the GPLv3 licensing terms in Yices.


Before running crux-llvm, you'll need to install the following software:

We have tested crux-llvm most heavily with GHC 8.10.7, GHC 9.2.7, GHC 9.4.4, and cabal version We recommend Yices 2.6.x, and Z3 4.8.x. Technically, only one of Yices or Z3 is required, and CVC4 is also supported. However, in practice, having both tends to be convenient. Finally, LLVM versions from 3.6 through 16 are likely to work well, and any failures with versions in that range should be reported as bugs.


The crux-llvm tool can be built by doing the following:

  • Clone (incl. the submodules) the crucible repository:

      git clone --recurse-submodules
  • Build the crux-llvm package:

      cabal build crux-llvm

This will compile crux-llvm and supporting libraries such that they can be executed with cabal run. To install the binaries in the standard Cabal binary path (usually $HOME/.cabal/bin), run the following:

    cabal install exe:crux-llvm --overwrite-policy=always

You can also use the --installdir flag to install binaries in a different location.


In the crux-llvm directory (either in the repository or the root of the directory extracted from a distribution tarball), to analyze file.c, run

    cabal run exe:crux-llvm file.c

If you've installed crux-llvm somewhere on your PATH, you can instead run

    crux-llvm file.c

You'll see output indicating the progress of analysis, how many proof goals are generated, and how many were successfully proved. In addition, the results directory will contain a subdirectory for the file you provided. This directory will contain an index.html file that shows a visualization of proof results overlaid on the C source code. If crux-llvm found a counter-example to any of the attempted proofs, the values of that counter-example will be overlaid on the source code (at the location of calls to create non-deterministic values), and the following two executable files will also exist in the results directory:

  • debug-NNN: an executable file that runs the program and provides it with the counter-example values. The number NNN indicates the line of the source on which the error occurred (and where it may make sense to set a breakpoint in a debugger to examine the state of the program).

  • print-model-NNN: an executable file that prints out the values associated with the counter-example.

To define properties and assumptions about the code to analyze, you can annotate the source code with inline properties. When crux-llvm compiles your code, it defines the CPP macro CRUCIBLE to help specify Crucible-specific functionality such as inline properties. The following simple example includes on version of main when running with crux-llvm and different one when compiled normally.

#include <stdint.h>
#include <crucible.h>

int8_t f(int8_t x) {
  return x + 1;

int main() {
  int8_t x = crucible_int8_t("x");
  assuming(x < 100);
  check(f(x) < 100);
  return 0;
int main(int argc, char **argv) {
  return f(argc);

When running under crux-llvm, this file includes the crucible.h header file that declares functions and macros such as crucible_int8_t, assuming, and check. The call to crucible_int8_t marks variable x as a symbolic variable whose value can be any 8-bit signed integer. The C expression within the assuming statement states that x must be less than 100. The expression within the check statement is a proof goal: crux-llvm will attempt to prove that property f(x) < 100 holds whenever the assumption on x is satisfied. The proof will fail in this case and crux-llvm will produce a counterexample describing the case where x is 99.

Counterexample limitations

All counterexamples assume that the entrypoint function is main, even if entry-point option is used to specify a different entrypoint during simulation. Counterexamples also do not respect the supply-main-arguments option. That is, if you simulate a main(int argc, char *argv[]) function and use supply-main-arguments: empty to pass argc=0 and argv={} to main, these arguments will not be passed automatically to the counterexample executables.


The crucible.h header file contains declarations of several functions that can be used to describe the properties of a program that you would like to prove.

  • The crucible_assume function states an assumption as a C expression. Any proofs after this point will assume this expression is true. The macro assuming will automatically fill in its location arguments.

  • The crucible_assert function states an property to check as a C expression. Every call to this function will create an additional proof goal. The check macro will automatically fill in its location arguments.

  • The crucible_*_t functions create fresh (non-deterministic) values of the corresponding type. The verification process ensures that whatever results are returned by these functions, out of all possible values for the corresponding type, all crucible_assert calls will succeed.

For programs that have been written for the SV-COMP competition, the __VERIFIER_nondet_* functions create non-deterministic values of the corresponding type. These symbolic values all have the name x. To supply distinct names, use the crucible_*_t functions, instead.

Note that support for the SV-COMP API exists primarily for backward compatibility, since a large number of benchmarks already exist in that form. The crucible.h API allows for better explanations by a) allowing user-specified names for non-deterministic variables, and b) ensuring that the conditions used in assertions are directly available and not obscured by a conditional wrapper around an error function.

Standard C and C++ Libraries

The code supplied to crux-llvm should be largely self-contained, without calls to external code. However, some standard library functions have built-in support. For C code, the following functions are understood:

  • __assert_rtn
  • calloc
  • free
  • getenv (always returns NULL)
  • malloc
  • memcpy
  • __memcpy_chk
  • memmove
  • memset
  • __memset_chk
  • posix_memalign
  • printf (supports a subset of standard printf formatting codes)
  • __printf_chk
  • putchar
  • puts
  • realloc
  • strlen
  • open
  • read
  • write
  • close

In addition, the following LLVM intrinsic functions are supported:

  • llvm.assume
  • llvm.bitreverse.*
  • llvm.bswap.*
  • llvm.ctlz.*
  • llvm.ctpop.*
  • llvm.cttz.*
  • llvm.expect.*
  • llvm.invariant.end.*
  • llvm.invariant.start.*
  • llvm.lifetime.end.*
  • llvm.lifetime.start.*
  • llvm.memcpy.*
  • llvm.memmove.*
  • llvm.memset.*
  • llvm.objectsize.*
  • llvm.sadd.with.overflow.*
  • llvm.smul.with.overflow.*
  • llvm.ssub.with.overflow.*
  • llvm.stackrestore
  • llvm.stacksave
  • llvm.uadd.with.overflow.*
  • llvm.umul.with.overflow.*
  • llvm.usub.with.overflow.*
  • llvm.x86.pclmulqdq
  • llvm.x86.sse2.storeu.dq

For C++ code, several core functions have built-in support, but crux-llvm will also link with a precompiled LLVM bitcode file containing the libc++ library included with the clang compiler, so most C++ code that doesn't use third-party libraries (or that includes those libraries linked into a single bitcode file) should work.

Command-line Flags

The most important and only required argument to crux-llvm is the source file or list of source files to analyze. In the case that multiple files are provided, they will be compiled independently and linked together with llvm-link.

In addition, the following flags can optionally be provided:

  • --help, -h, -?: Print all options with brief descriptions.

  • --include-dirs=DIRS, -I DIRS: Set directories to search for C/C++ include files. This will be passed along to clang.

  • -O NUM: Set the optimization level for clang.

  • --version, -V: Show the version of the tool.

  • --sim-verbose=NUM, -d NUM: Set the verbosity level of the symbolic simulator to N.

  • --floating-point=FPREP, -f FPREP: Select the floating point representation to use. The value of FPREP can be one of real, ieee, uninterpreted, or default. Default representation is solver specific: real for CVC4 and Yices, and ieee for Z3.

  • --iteration-bound=N, -i N: Set a bound on the number of times a single loop can iterate. This can also make it more likely to get at least a partial verification result for complex programs, and can be more clearly connected to the execution of the program than a time-based bound.

  • --profiling-period=N, -p N: Set how many seconds to wait between each dump of profiling data (default: 5). Intermediate profiling data can be helpful for diagnosing a run that does not terminate in a reasonable amount of time.

  • --quiet, -q: Quiet mode; produce minimal output.

  • --recursion-bound=N, -i N: Set a bound on the number of times a single function can recur. This can also make it more likely to get at least a partial verification result for complex programs, and can be more clearly connected to the execution of the program than a time-based bound.

  • --solver=NAME, -s NAME: Use the given SMT solver to discharge proof obligations. Valid values for NAME are cvc4, cvc5, yices, and z3.

  • --timeout=N, -t N: Set the timeout for the first phase of analysis (symbolic execution) which happens before sending the main goals to an SMT solver. Setting this to a low value can give you a result more quickly, but the result is more likely to be "Unknown" (default: 60).

  • --no-execs, -x: Do not create executables to demonstrate counter-examples.

  • --branch-coverage: Record branch coverage information.

  • --config=FILE: Load configuration from FILE. A configuration file can specify the same settings as command-line flags. Details of the format for configuration files appear in the next section.

  • --entry-point=SYMBOL: Start symbolic execution at SYMBOL.

  • --fail-fast: Stop attempting to prove goals as soon as one of them is disproved.

  • --force-offline-goal-solving: Force goals to be solved using an offline solver, even if the selected solver could have been used in online mode.

  • --goal-timeout=N: Set the timeout for each call to the SMT solver to N seconds.

  • --hash-consing: Enable hash-consing in the symbolic expression backend.

  • --lax-arithmetic: Allow arithmetic overflow.

  • --lax-pointers: Allow order comparisons between pointers from different allocation blocks.

  • --lazy-compile: Avoid compiling bitcode from source if intermediate files already exist.

  • --mcsat: Enable the MC-SAT engine when using the Yices SMT solver. This disables the use of UNSAT cores, so the HTML rendering of proved goals won't include highlighting a set of the assumptions that were necessary for proving the goal.

  • --no-unsat-cores: Disable computing unsat cores for successful proofs.

  • --online-solver-output=FILE: Store a log of interaction with the online goal solver in FILE.

  • --opt-loop-merge: Insert merge blocks in loops with early exits.

  • --output-directory=DIR: Set the directory to use to store output files (default: results).

  • --path-sat: Enable path satisfiability checking, which can help programs terminate, particularly in the case where the bounds on loops are complex.

  • --path-sat-solver=SOLVER: Select the solver to use for path satisfiability checking, in order to use a different solver than for discharging goals.

  • --path-sat-solver-output: Store a log of interaction with the path satisfiability solver in FILE.

  • --path-strategy=STRATEGY: Set the strategy to use for exploring paths during symbolic execution. A STRATEGY of always-merge (the default) causes all paths being explored to be merged into a single symbolic state at every post-dominator node in the control flow graph. The split-dfs strategy explores each path independently in depth-first order. The former is typically more appropriate for full verification whereas the latter can be more effective for bug finding. Sometimes, however split-dfs can lead to faster full verification times.

  • --profile-crucible: Enable profiling of the symbolic execution process. Produces an additional HTML file in the output directory that provides a graphical and tabular depiction of the execution time profile.

  • --profile-solver: Include profiling of SMT solver calls in the symbolic execution profile.

  • --skip-incomplete-reports: Skip reporting on proof obligations that arise from timeouts and resource exhaustion.

  • --skip-print-failures: Skip printing messages related to failed verification goals.

  • --skip-report: Skip producing the HTML report following verification.

  • --skip-success-reports: Skip reporting on successful proof obligations.

  • --target=ARCH: Pass ARCH as the target architecture to LLVM build operations.

  • --no-compile: Assume the input file is an LLVM bitcode module, rather than a C program.

  • --symbolic-fs-root=DIR: Specify a directory containing the initial contents of a symbolic filesystem to use during symbolic execution. See the Symbolic I/O documentation for the format of this directory. [Experimental]

Environment Variables

The following environment variables are supported:

  • BLDDIR: Specify the directory for writing build files generated from the input files.

  • CLANG: Specify the name of the clang compiler command used to translate from C/C++ to LLVM.

  • CLANG_OPTS: Specify additional options to pass to clang.

  • LLVM_LINK: Specify the name of the llvm-link command used to combine multiple LLVM bitcode files.

Configuration Files

In addition to command-line flags and environment variables, crux-llvm can be configured with a key-value input file. The file consists of a set of KEY: VALUE entries, each on a separate line, where each KEY generally corresponds to the textual part of the long version of a command-line flag. For example, one can set the iteration bound to 10 as follows:

iteration-bound: 10

Options that take a list of arguments can be written with either a single value (for a list of length one) or with multiple values on successive lines, each starting with *. For example, the following is a valid input file:

llvm-link: "llvm-link-6.0"
clang: "clang-6.0"
make-executables: no
  * "a.c"
  * "b.c"

This specifies the name of the command to run for clang and llvm-link, instructs crux-llvm not to create counter-example demonstration executables, and provides a list of input files.

Symbolic I/O [Experimental]

Note that Symbolic I/O is currently experimental. We expect that the API (both internal and command line) will change.

crux-llvm supports symbolic I/O operations via the POSIX open, read, write, and close functions. These operations are symbolic in the sense that the contents of files in the symbolic filesystem can be a mix of concrete and symbolic values. The original motivation of the work was to support checking assertions for programs with configuration files; by supporting symbolic file contents, crux-llvm can check entire families of configuration at once.

Symbolic Filesystem Contents

The --symbolic-fs-root option (and corresponding configuration file option) enable users to specify the initial contents of the symbolic filesystem. The directory pointed to by this options contains:

  • A sub-directory named root that contains concrete files that will exist in the initial filesystem. The directory layout within root is preserved. For example, a file named root/etc/fstab will be mapped to /etc/fstab in the initial symbolic filesystem.
  • An optional file named stdin, which contains the standard input of the program.
  • A manifest named system-manifest.json that describes the contents of symbolic files.

The manifest maps absolute file paths to specifications of what parts of the corresponding file are symbolic. Note that the specification is currently coarse and only supports fully-symbolic files. The format of the system manifest is:

{ "symbolicFiles": [<SymFilePair>],
  "useStdout": bool,
  "useStderr": bool

SymFilePair := [ FilePath, <SymbolicFileContents> ]

FilePath := string (an absolute file path)

SymbolicFileContents := { "symbolicContentSize": Word64 }

If no initial filesystem is specified, crux-llvm defaults to an empty standard input, while allowing output to standard output and standard error. Note that if a program attempts to use the symbolic I/O primitives without being backed by appropriate files (e.g., opening a file that does not exist), the symbolic I/O backend will simply report that those functions fail in the expected way (i.e., returning -1).

Interaction with Standard I/O

If the program being verified writes to standard output or standard error (via the POSIX STDOUT_FILENO or STDERR_FILENO handles, which correspond to file descriptors 1 and 2), the symbolic I/O backend reflects as much of the output as it can to the actual standard output and standard error of crux-llvm. Note that only concrete writes are mirrored to the real world; symbolic writes still take effect in the symbolic files representing standard output and standard error.

Note that, due to the branching structure of symbolic execution, the same output may appear more than once if a call to write occurs on a symbolic branch.

Current Limitations

  • Filenames must be concrete
  • Filenames must be absolute paths (relative paths require additionally modeling the current working directory)
  • Many file operations are not yet modeled
  • Files can currently only be entirely concrete or entirely symbolic
  • The open function does not accept a mode (i.e., file permissions are not yet modeled)
  • The open function accepts flags (but currently ignores them)
  • The open function cannot create new files that do not exist in the filesystem
  • The special handling of printf does not yet interact with the symbolic standard output file descriptor

It is intended that the symbolic I/O facility will be extended over time to support more operations.

Also note that the order in which file descriptor numbers are handed out to client code can be subtly different than in the real program. In particular, on a symbolic branch where both branches open a new file, the two branches will get sequential file descriptors. In contrast, the real program would allocate the same file descriptor to both (as only one branch would be taken).

Test suite

The crux-llvm test suite is implemented in test/Test.hs, and the accompanying test case data can be found under test-data. Each test case comprises a C or LLVM bitcode file that is provided as input to crux-llvm, along with an expected output file. For most test cases, this expected output file will be named <test-case>.z3.good; this picks Z3 as a default solver to use when simulating the test case. There are also a handful of tests that require other solvers, e.g., abd-test-file-32.cvc5.good.

Some of the test cases have slightly different output depending on which Clang version is used. These test cases will have accompanying <test-case>.pre-clang<version>.<...>.good files, where pre-clang<version> indicates that this test output is used for all Clang versions up to (but not including) <version>. Note that if a test case has multiple pre-clang<version> .good files, then the <version> that is closest to the current Clang version (without going over) is picked.

To illustrate this with a concrete example, consider suppose we have a test case foo with the following .good files

  • foo.pre-clang11.z3.good
  • foo.pre-clang13.z3.good
  • foo.z3.good

The following .good files would be used for the following Clang versions:

  • Clang 10: foo.pre-clang11.z3.good
  • Clang 11: foo.pre-clang13.z3.good
  • Clang 12: foo.pre-clang13.z3.good
  • Clang 13 or later: foo.z3.good

There are some test cases that require a sufficiently recent Clang version to run. To indicate that a test should not be run on Clangs older than <version>, create a pre-clang<version> .good file with SKIP_TEST as the first line. The use of SKIP_TEST signals that this test should be skipped when using Clangs older than <version>. Note that the test suite will not read anything past SKIP_TEST, so the rest of the file can be used to document why the test is skipped on that particular configuration.


Crux is partly based upon work supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under Contract No. N66001-18-C-4011. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).