Report Number: CS-TN-98-62
Institution: Stanford University, Department of Computer Science
Title: A Type System for Object Initialization in the Java Bytecode Language
Author: Freund, Stephen N.
Author: Mitchell, John C.
Date: April 1998
Abstract: In the standard Java implementation, a Java language program is compiled to Java bytecode. This bytecode may be sent across the network to another site, where it is then interpreted by the Java Virtual Machine. Since bytecode may be written by hand, or corrupted during network transmission, the Java Virtual Machine contains a bytecode verifier that performs a number of consistency checks before code is interpreted. As illustrated by previous attacks on the Java Virtual Machine, these tests, which include type correctness, are critical for system security. In order to analyze existing bytecode verifiers and to understand the properties that should be verified, we develop a precise specification of statically-correct Java bytecode, in the form of a type system. Our focus in this paper is a subset of the bytecode language dealing with object creation and initialization. For this subset, we prove that for every Java bytecode program that satisfies our typing constraints, every object is initialized before it is used. The type system is easily combined with a previous system developed by Stata and Abadi for bytecode subroutines. Our analysis of subroutines and object initialization reveals a previously unpublished bug in the Sun JDK bytecode verifier.