Effective Fault Localization Approach Using Feedback

Yan LEI  Xiaoguang MAO  Ziying DAI  Dengping WEI  

IEICE TRANSACTIONS on Information and Systems   Vol.E95-D    No.9    pp.2247-2257
Publication Date: 2012/09/01
Online ISSN: 1745-1361
DOI: 10.1587/transinf.E95.D.2247
Print ISSN: 0916-8532
Type of Manuscript: PAPER
Category: Software Engineering
fault localization,  software debugging,  program spectra,  feedback,  

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At the stage of software debugging, the effective interaction between software debugging engineers and fault localization techniques can greatly improve fault localization performance. However, most fault localization approaches usually ignore this interaction and merely utilize the information from testing. Due to different goals of testing and fault localization, the lack of interaction may lead to the issue of information inadequacy, which can substantially degrade fault localization performance. In addition, human work is costly and error-prone. It is vital to study and simulate the pattern of debugging engineers as they apply their knowledge and experience to this interaction to promote fault localization effectiveness and reduce their workload. Thus this paper proposes an effective fault localization approach to simulate this interaction via feedback. Based on results obtained from fault localization techniques, this approach utilizes test data generation techniques to automatically produce feedback for interacting with these fault localization techniques, and then iterate this process to improve fault localization performance until a specific stopping condition is satisfied. Experiments on two standard benchmarks demonstrate the significant improvement of our approach over a promising fault localization technique, namely the spectrum-based fault localization technique.