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Can Large Language Models Reason about Program Invariants?

Kexin Pei · David Bieber · Kensen Shi · Charles Sutton · Pengcheng Yin

Exhibit Hall 1 #217


Identifying invariants is an important program analysis task with applications towards program understanding, bug finding, vulnerability analysis, and formal verification. Existing tools for identifying program invariants rely on dynamic analysis, requiring traces collected from multiple executions in order to produce reliable invariants. We study the application of large language models to invariant prediction, finding that models trained on source code and fine-tuned for invariant generation can perform invariant prediction as static rather than dynamic analysis. Using a scratchpad approach where invariants are predicted sequentially through a program gives the best performance, finding invariants statically of quality comparable to those obtained by a dynamic analysis tool with access to five program traces.

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