Tips for using Kontrol

Some Tips for using Kontrol from Developers at RV

Running a proof with Kontrol

The following is a suggested process to follow when running a proof with Kontrol:

  1. Run the proof with no-break-on-calls, --max-depth 10000 and --max-iterations 5 or 10

  2. Inspect the kcfg for branching.

  3. If there is branching, check if the branching condition is true or false:

    • Try to figure out the simplifications to discharge it. To do this efficiently, one needs to be familiar with existing simplifications.

    • Add the simplifications and create a claim in the form runLemma => doneLemma that demonstrably simplifies the branching condition.

    • Remove the branching node from the kcfg using kontrol remove-node

    • Repeat from step 1.

  4. Repeat from step 1.

When writing a claim using the runLemma-doneLemma pattern to check if an expression simplifies, it's important to remember that running the claim includes an implication check. This means that if your claim is in the form of runLemma(A) => doneLemma(B) and it passes, it doesn't guarantee that A fully simplifies to B. Instead, it might simplify to an expression B' that implies B.

Decoding KEVM expressions

The following tips might be useful when inspecting branching conditions or nodes in the kcfg. If you don't know where an expression comes from, this might help figuring out what they mean and what part of the Solidity code they correspond to:

  • Solidity uses bitwise expressions, such as maxUInt160 &Int X, to extract a variable with a specific number of bits from a larger word. The number of bits can often provide a clue about the type of the variable. For example, maxUInt160 typically represents an address, while maxUInt8 represents a boolean value.

  • When using the symbolicStorage cheatcode, you may encounter expressions like #lookup(?STORAGE0:Map, 6). This expression accesses storage slot 6 of the symbolic storage represented by the STORAGE0 variable. If you want to determine which storage variable this expression corresponds to, you can follow these steps:

    • First, ascertain the contract that STORAGE0 corresponds to.

      • The first call of symbolicStorage creates the symbolic variable STORAGE, followed by STORAGE0, STORAGE1, STORAGE2, STORAGE3, and so on. Therefore, you can use the order in which symbolicStorage was called in each contract to map each variable to its contract.

      • Another option is to check the <accounts> cell in the KEVM configuration. In each <account>, the <acctId> cell contains the address of the contract, and the <storage> cell contains the storage. If you know the address of each contract, you can map it to the storage variable.

    • Next, determine which variable corresponds to storage slot 6.

      • The easiest way to do this is by calling forge inspect ContractName storage, where ContractName represents the contract identified in the previous step. This command will output a JSON result, with the storage field containing a list of all storage slots in the contract. The label of each slot corresponds to the name of the storage variable.

    • Some storage slots contain more than one variable at different offsets. If your expression is, for example, #lookup ( ?STORAGE0:Map , 6 ) >>Int 8, this means it is offsetting the storage slot by 8 bits, or 1 byte. In the previous step, you should look for the variable at that storage slot with offset 1.

Forge Debugger with Kontrol

If you need to understand why the memory looks a certain way at a certain point during execution, you can use the Forge debugger.

To use the Forge debugger, you may need to create a version of the test with concrete values instead of symbolic ones.

The debugger can be used to set breakpoints and step through the EVM code to observe how the memory changes. This can be particularly useful to understand details about the Solidity memory layout that may not be well-documented.

Other Proving and Debugging Tips

  • If kontrol prove hangs during an execute step (no response for hours) or it crashes because kore-rpc returned an empty response, it may be caused by the configuration becoming too large.

    • To troubleshoot this issue, inspect the node that was being extended using kontrol show or kontrol view-kcfg. Check if there are any abnormally large expressions in any of the cells and consider writing lemmas to simplify them.

  • If you are using the infiniteGas cheatcode and the expression in the <gas> or <callGas> cell is growing out of control without being simplified, you can call kontrol prove with the --auto-abstract-gas option. This will automatically abstract the gas expression into a symbolic variable. Only do this if you are not concerned with measuring gas consumption, as you will lose that information. If possible, write lemmas to simplify the gas expression instead.

  • Some instructions in Kontrol may cause branching based on whether a symbolic address already exists in the <accounts> cell or if it is a new address. This situation occurs when the prank cheatcode is called with a symbolic address, for example. You can refer to this issue for an example of how it appears when using kontrol show.

    • To resolve this issue, the usual solution is to add one vm.assume(symbolicAddress != ...) for each of the preexisting addresses. These addresses should correspond to:

      • the test contract address

      • the cheatcodes contract address

      • the address of any other contracts deployed within the test.

  • The && and || operators are short-circuit operators. They introduce branching when evaluated. This means that if you have a line like vm.assume(p && q) or vm.assume(p || q), it will introduce branching in the execution, which may not be immediately obvious.

  • When adding a new lemma to remove an unnecessary branch, be sure to delete the split node from the KCFG before continuing. Otherwise, both branches will still exist, but the unnecessary one will simplify to #Bottom.

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