S2E is a platform for analyzing the properties and behavior of software systems. So far, we have used S2E to develop practical tools for comprehensive performance profiling, reverse engineering of proprietary software, and bug finding for both kernel-mode and user-mode binaries. Building these tools on top of S2E took less than 770 LOC and 40 person-hours each.
S2E’s novelty consists of its ability to scale to large real systems, such as a full Windows stack. S2E is based on two new ideas: selective symbolic execution, a way to automatically minimize the amount of code that has to be executed symbolically given a target analysis, and relaxed execution consistency models, a way to make principled performance/precision trade-offs in complex analyses. These techniques give S2E three key abilities:
- to simultaneously analyze entire families of execution paths, instead of just one execution at a time;
- to perform the analyses in-vivo within a real software stack — user programs, libraries, kernel, drivers, etc. — instead of using abstract models of these layers; and
- to operate directly on binaries, thus being able to analyze even proprietary software.
Conceptually, S2E is an automated path explorer with modular path analyzers: the explorer drives the target system down all execution paths of interest, while analyzers check properties of each such path (e.g., to look for bugs) or simply collect information (e.g., count page faults). Desired paths can be specified in multiple ways, and one can either combine existing analyzers to build a custom analysis tool, or write new analyzers using the S2E API.
S2E helps make analyses based on symbolic execution practical for large software that runs in real environments, without requiring explicit modeling of these
S2E can be downloaded from
For more details, please see:
S2E: A Platform for In-Vivo Multi-Path Analysis of Software Systems. Vitaly Chipounov, Volodymyr Kuznetsov, George Candea. 16th Intl. Conference on Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems (ASPLOS), Newport Beach, CA, March 2011.
- Testing Closed-Source Binary Device Drivers with DDT. Volodymyr Kuznetsov, Vitaly Chipounov, George Candea. USENIX Annual Technical Conference, Boston, MA, June 2010.
- Reverse Engineering of Binary Device Drivers with RevNIC. Vitaly Chipounov and George Candea. 5th ACM SIGOPS/EuroSys European Conference on Computer Systems (EuroSys), Paris, France, April 2010.
- Selective Symbolic Execution, by Vitaly Chipounov, Vlad Georgescu, Cristian Zamfir, George Candea. Proc. 5th Workshop on Hot Topics in System Dependability, Lisbon, Portugal, June 2009