Error explanation with distance metrics

Alex Groce, Sagar Chaki, Daniel Kroening, Ofer Strichman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations

Abstract

In the event that a system does not satisfy a specification, a model checker will typically automatically produce a counterexample trace that shows a particular instance of the undesirable behavior. Unfortunately, the important steps that follow the discovery of a counterexample are generally not automated. The user must first decide if the counterexample shows genuinely erroneous behavior or is an artifact of improper specification or abstraction. In the event that the error is real, there remains the difficult task of understanding the error well enough to isolate and modify the faulty aspects of the system. This paper describes a (semi-)automated approach for assisting users in understanding and isolating errors in ANSI C programs. The approach, derived from Lewis- counterfactual approach to causality, is based on distance metrics for program executions. Experimental results show that the power of the model checking engine can be used to provide assistance in understanding errors and to isolate faulty portions of the source code.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-247
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal on Software Tools for Technology Transfer
Volume8
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Automated debugging
  • Error explanation
  • Fault localization
  • Model checking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Information Systems

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