Semi-Automatic Fault Localization
One of the most expensive and time-consuming components of the debugging
process is locating the errors or faults. To locate faults, developers must identify
statements involved in failures and select suspicious statements that might contain
faults. In practice, this localization is done by developers in a tedious and manual
way, using only a single execution, targeting only one fault, and having a limited
perspective into a large search space.
The thesis of this research is that fault localization can be partially automated
with the use of commonly available dynamic information gathered from test-case
executions in a way that is e?ective, e?cient, tolerant of test cases that pass but also
execute the fault, and scalable to large programs that potentially contain multiple
faults. The overall goal of this research is to develop e?ective and e?cient fault
localization techniques that scale to programs of large size and with multiple faults.
There are three principle steps performed to reach this goal: (1) Develop practical
techniques for locating suspicious regions in a program; (2) Develop techniques to
partition test suites into smaller, specialized test suites to target speci?c faults; and
(3) Evaluate the usefulness and cost of these techniques.
In this dissertation, the di?culties and limitations of previous work in the area
of fault-localization are explored. A technique, called Tarantula, is presented that
addresses these di?culties. Empirical evaluation of the Tarantula technique shows
that it is e?cient and e?ective for many faults. The evaluation also demonstrates
that the Tarantula technique can loose e?ectiveness as the number of faults increases.
To address the loss of e?ectiveness for programs with multiple faults, supporting
techniques have been developed and are presented. The empirical evaluation of these
supporting techniques demonstrates that they can enable e?ective fault localization in
the presence of multiple faults. A new mode of debugging, called parallel debugging, is
developed and empirical evidence demonstrates that it can provide a savings in terms
of both total expense and time to delivery. A prototype visualization is provided to
display the fault-localization results as well as to provide a method to interact and
explore those results. Finally, a study on the e?ects of the composition of test suites
on fault-localization is presented.
Advisor:Harrold, Mary Jean; Orso, Alessandro; Pande, Santosh; Reiss, Steven; Rugaber, Spencer
School:Georgia Institute of Technology
School Location:USA - Georgia
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:01/17/2008