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Sparse - a Semantic Parser for C

About Sparse

Sparse, the semantic parser, provides a compiler frontend capable of parsing most of ANSI C as well as many GCC extensions, and a collection of sample compiler backends, including a static analyzer also called "sparse". Sparse provides a set of annotations designed to convey semantic information about types, such as what address space pointers point to, or what locks a function acquires or releases.

Linus Torvalds started writing Sparse in 2003, initially targeting issues such as mixing pointers to user address space and pointers to kernel address space.

Josh Triplett was Sparse's first maintainer in 2006. This role was taken over by Christopher Li in 2009 and by Luc Van Oostenryck in late 2018.


Getting Sparse

Sparse releases

You can find released versions of sparse at

Obtaining sparse via Git

Sparse uses the Git version control system. You can obtain the most recent version of sparse directly from the Git repository with the command:

git clone git://

You can also browse the Git repository.

Mailing list

Discussion about sparse occurs on the sparse mailing list, To subscribe to the list, send an email with subscribe linux-sparse in the body to

You can browse the list archives at


Sparse's documentation can be found at

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