# Use-define chain

A Use-Definition Chain (UD Chain) is a data structure that consists of a use, U, of a variable, and all the definitions, D, of that variable that can reach that use without any other intervening definitions. A UD Chain generally means the assignment of some value to a variable.

A counterpart of a UD Chain is a Definition-Use Chain (DU Chain), which consists of a definition, D, of a variable and all the uses, U, reachable from that definition without any other intervening definitions.

Both UD and DU chains are created by using a form of static code analysis known as data flow analysis. Knowing the use-def and def-use chains for a program or subprogram is a prerequisite for many compiler optimizations, including constant propagation and common subexpression elimination.

## Purpose

Making the use-define or define-use chains is a step in liveness analysis, so that logical representations of all the variables can be identified and tracked through the code.

Consider the following snippet of code:

``` int x = 0;    /* A */
x = x + y;    /* B */
/* 1, some uses of x */
x = 35;       /* C */
/* 2, some more uses of x */
```

Notice that `x` is assigned a value at three points (marked A, B, and C). However, at the point marked "1", the use-def chain for `x` should indicate that its current value must have come from line B (and its value at line B must have come from line A). Contrariwise, at the point marked "2", the use-def chain for `x` indicates that its current value must have come from line C. Since the value of the `x` in block 2 does not depend on any definitions in block 1 or earlier, `x` might as well be a different variable there; practically speaking, it is a different variable — call it `x2`.

``` int x = 0;    /* A */
x = x + y;    /* B */
/* 1, some uses of x */
int x2 = 35;  /* C */
/* 2, some uses of x2 */
```

The process of splitting `x` into two separate variables is called live range splitting. See also static single assignment form.

## Setup

The list of statements determines a strong order among statements.

• Statements are labeled using the following conventions: $s(i)$ , where i is an integer in $[1,n]$ ; and n is the number of statements in the basic block
• Variables are identified in italic (e.g., v,u and t)
• Every variable is assumed to have a definition in the context or scope. (In static single assignment form, use-define chains are explicit because each chain contains a single element.)

For a variable, such as v, its declaration is identified as V (italic capital letter), and for short, its declaration is identified as $s(0)$ . In general, a declaration of a variable can be in an outer scope (e.g., a global variable).

### Definition of a Variable

When a variable, v, is on the LHS of an assignment statement, such as $s(j)$ , then $s(j)$ is a definition of v. Every variable (v) has at least one definition by its declaration (V) (or initialization).

### Use of a Variable

If variable, v, is on the RHS of statement $s(j)$ , there is a statement, $s(i)$ with i < j and $\min(j-i)$ , that it is a definition of v and it has a use at $s(j)$ (or, in short, when a variable, v, is on the RHS of a statement $s(j)$ , then v has a use at statement $s(j)$ ).

## Execution

Consider the sequential execution of the list of statements, $s(i)$ , and what can now be observed as the computation at statement, j:

• A definition at statement $s(i)$ with i < j is alive at j, if it has a use at a statement $s(k)$ with kj. The set of alive definitions at statement i is denoted as $A(i)$ and the number of alive definitions as $|A(i)|$ . ($A(i)$ is a simple but powerful concept: theoretical and practical results in space complexity theory, access complexity(I/O complexity), register allocation and cache locality exploitation are based on $A(i)$ .)
• A definition at statement $s(i)$ kills all previous definitions ($s(k)$ with k < i) for the same variables.

## Execution example for def-use-chain

This example is based on a Java algorithm for finding the gcd. (It is not important to understand what this function does.)

``` 1/**
2 * @param(a, b) The values used to calculate the divisor.
3 * @return The greatest common divisor of a and b.
4 */
5int gcd(int a, int b) {
6    int c = a;
7    int d = b;
8    if (c == 0)
9        return d;
10    while (d != 0) {
11        if (c > d)
12            c = c - d;
13        else
14            d = d - c;
15    }
16    return c;
17}
```

To find out all def-use-chains for variable d, do the following steps:

1. Search for the first time the variable is defined (write access).
In this case it is "`d=b`" (l.7)
2. Search for the first time the variable is read.
In this case it is "`return d`"
3. Write down this information in the following style: [name of the variable you are creating a def-use-chain for, the concrete write access, the concrete read access]
In this case it is: `[d, d=b, return d]`

Repeat these steps in the following style: combine each write access with each read access (but NOT the other way round).

The result should be:

```1 [d, d=b, return d]
2 [d, d=b, while(d!=0)]
3 [d, d=b, if(c>d)]
4 [d, d=b, c=c-d]
5 [d, d=b, d=d-c]
6 [d, d=d-c, while(d!=0)]
7 [d, d=d-c, if(c>d)]
8 [d, d=d-c, c=c-d]
9 [d, d=d-c, d=d-c]
```

You have to take care, if the variable is changed by the time.

For example: From line 7 down to line 13 in the source code, d is not redefined / changed. At line 14, d could be redefined, this is, why you have to recombine this write access on d with all possible read access, which could be reached. In this case, only the code beyond line 10 is relevant. Line 7 for example cannot be reached again. For your understanding, you can imagine 2 different variables d:

```1 [d1, d1=b, return d1]
2 [d1, d1=b, while(d1!=0)]
3 [d1, d1=b, if(c>d1)]
4 [d1, d1=b, c=c-d1]
5 [d1, d1=b, d1=d1-c]
6 [d2, d2=d2-c, while(d2!=0)]
7 [d2, d2=d2-c, if(c>d2)]
8 [d2, d2=d2-c, c=c-d2]
9 [d2, d2=d2-c, d2=d2-c]
```

As result you could get something like this. The variable d1 would be replaced by b

``` 1/**
2 * @param(a, b) The values used to calculate the divisor.
3 * @return The greatest common divisor of a and b.
4 **/
5int gcd(int a, int b) {
6    int c = a;
7    int d;
8    if (c == 0)
9        return b;
10    if (b != 0) {
11        if (c > b) {
12            c = c - b;
13            d = b;
14        }
15        else
16            d = b - c;
17        while (d != 0) {
18            if (c > d)
19                c = c - d;
20            else
21                d = d - c;
22        }
23    }
24    return c;
25}
```

## Method of building a use-def (or ud) chain

1. Set definitions in statement $s(0)$ 2. For each i in $[1,n]$ , find live definitions that have use in statement $s(i)$ 3. Make a link among definitions and uses
4. Set the statement $s(i)$ , as definition statement
5. Kill previous definitions

With this algorithm, two things are accomplished:

1. A directed acyclic graph (DAG) is created on the variable uses and definitions. The DAG specifies a data dependency among assignment statements, as well as a partial order (therefore parallelism among statements).
2. When statement $s(i)$ is reached, there is a list of live variable assignments. If only one assignment is live, for example, constant propagation might be used.