José Bernardo Barros; Daniela Cruz; Pedro Rangel Henriques; Jorge Sousa Pinto
Formal Aspects of Computing - Formal Aspects of Computing, vol.24, no.2, pp.217-248
This paper revisits the idea of slicing programs based on their axiomatic semantics, rather than using criteria based on control/data dependencies. We show how the forward propagation of preconditions and the backward propagation of post conditions can be combined in a new slicing algorithm that is more precise than the existing specification-based algorithms. The algorithm is based on (i) a precise test for removable statements, and (ii) the construction of a slice graph, a program control flow graph extended with semantic labels. It improves on previous approaches in two aspects: it does not fail to identify removable commands; and it produces the smallest possible slice that can be obtained (in a sense that will be made precise). The paper also reviews in detail, through examples, the ideas behind the use of preconditions and post conditions for slicing programs.
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