C/C++ Thread Safety Analysis
October 2014 • Article
DeLesley Hutchins (Google, Inc.), Aaron Ballman, Dean F. Sutherland
In this paper, the authors describe Clang Thread Safety Analysis, a tool that uses annotations to enforce thread safety policies in C and C++ programs.
Writing multithreaded programs is hard. Static analysis tools can help developers by allowing threading policies to be formally specified and mechanically checked. They essentially provide a static type system for threads, and can detect potential race conditions and deadlocks. This paper describes Clang Thread Safety Analysis, a tool which uses annotations to declare and enforce thread safety policies in C and C++ programs. Clang is a production-quality C++ compiler which is available on most platforms, and the analysis can be enabled for any build with a simple warning flag:
-Wthread-safety.The analysis is deployed on a large scale at Google, where it has provided sufficient value in practice to drive widespread voluntary adoption. Contrary to popular belief, the need for annotations has not been a liability, and even confers some benefits with respect to software evolution and maintenance.