Sep 7, 2014
May 17, 2016 (Retired)
Programming Languages and Verification at the University of Colorado Boulder (cuplv)
Sam Blackshear (sblackshear)
Bor-Yuh Evan Chang (bechang)
Source code


Hopper is a goal-directed static analysis tool for languages that run on the JVM. It is a much-improved and more feature-ful version of Thresher written in Scala rather than Java.


Hopper requires sbt 0.1 or later.

(1) Download Droidel and follow its installation instructions. Publish Droidel to your local Maven repository by running sbt publishLocal in the droidel/ directory.

(2) Download Z3, compile the Java bindings, and copy the produced *.dylib (OSX), *.so (Linux), and *.jar files to hopper/lib:

mkdir lib; cd lib
git clone https://github.com/Z3Prover/z3.git; cd z3
python scripts/mk_make.py --java; cd build
cp *.jar ../..
cp *.dylib ../.. || cp *.so ../..
cd ../..

(3) In order to use the Android clients or compile/run the tests, you'll need a Droidel-processed Android framework JAR in lib/: cp ../droidel/stubs/out/droidel_android-4.4.2_r1.jar lib (assuming droidel and hopper are sibling directories).

(4) Build Hopper with sbt one-jar and run with ./hopper.sh.



./hopper.sh -app <path_to_bytecodes> -<check>

where <path_to_bytecodes> is a path to a JAR or directory containing the Java bytecodes to be checked and <check> is one of check_android_derefs (check nulls for null dereferences with special handling for Android), -check_casts (check safety of downcasts), -check_array_bounds (check for out-of-bounds array accesses), -check_nulls (check for null dereferences), or -check_android_leaks (check for Android memory leaks).

The primary advantage of Hopper over Thresher is the -jumping_execution flag, which enables goal-directed control-flow abstraction. This flag tells Hopper to try to achieve better scalability by "jumping" between relevant code regions rather than strictly following the program's control-flow. For better precision while jumping, use the -control_feasibility flag.

For example, to check for null dereferences in the Android app app.apk, you should run ./hopper.sh -check_android_derefs -jumping_execution -control_feasibility -app app.apk.


To compile/run the regression tests, do sbt test:compile and then ./hopper.sh -regressions -jumping_execution. To run a single test, you can do ./hopper.sh -regressions -test <test_name>.


The core functionality of Hopper is an engine for refuting queries written in separation logic; that is, showing that no concrete execution can satisfy the query. Hopper performs a form of proof by contradiction: it starts from a query representing a bad program state (such as a null dereference or out-of-bounds array access) and works backward in an attempt to derive false.

Hopper has several built-in clients (as described above) but writing your own clients is meant to be easy: just extend the Client class and write a checker that takes a program as input and emits separation logic formulae representing your client.

For more on Hopper and its predecessor tool Thresher, see our OOPSLA '15 paper, our PLDI '13 paper or the Thresher project page.

Bugs found

Here is a selection of bugs found using the assistance of Hopper/Thresher:

Android framework - write into all HashMap's (fixed)

SeriesGuide Android app - null dereference (fixed)

SeriesGuide Android app - null dereference (fixed)

ConnectBot Android app - null dereference (fixed)

ConnectBot Android app - null dereference (fixed)

LastFM Android app - null dereference

K9Mail Android app - memory leak (fixed)

Jython - array out of bounds error


Problem: Hopper compilation fails with missing dependency from walautil or droidel. Solution: Your walautil and droidel projects might be out of date. Try git pull; sbt publishLocal in each directory.

Problem: Hopper fails at runtime with a message like: java.lang.NoSuchMethodError: scala.collection.immutable.$colon$colon.hd$1()Ljava/lang/Object;. Solution: This happens when Hopper is run with the wrong version of Scala; make sure you are using Scala 2.10.

Problem: Hopper fails at runtime with a message like: java.lang.UnsupportedClassVersionError: edu/colorado/walautil/cg/ImprovedZeroXContainerCFABuilder : Unsupported major.minor version 52.0. Solution: This happens when Hopper and walautil are built using different JDK versions. You may need to rebuild walautil and sbt publishLocal again.