Isolating Cause-Effect Chains from Computer Programs - SIGSOFT FSE 2002
by Andreas Zeller

SIGSOFT '02/FSE-10: Proceedings of the 10th ACM SIGSOFT symposium on Foundations of software engineering, Pages 1-10, ACM Press, New York, NY, USA, November 2002.

ISBN: 1581135149

Digital Library via DOI: 10.1145/587051.587053 - Local copy: Download as PDF file.

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Consider the execution of a failing program as a sequence of program states. Each state induces the following state, up to the failure. Which variables and values of a program state are relevant for the failure? We show how the Delta Debugging algorithm isolates the relevant variables and values by systematically narrowing the state difference between a passing run and a failing run - by assessing the outcome of altered executions to determine wether a change in the program state makes a difference in the test outcome. Applying Delta Debugging to multiple states of the program automatically reveals the cause-effect chain of the failure - that is, the variables and values that caused the failure. In a case study, our prototype implementation successfully narrowed down the cause-effect chain for a failure of the GNU C compiler: "Initially, the C program to be compiled contained an addition of 1.0; this caused an addition operator in the intermediate RTL representation; this caused a cycle in the RTL tree - and this caused the compiler to crash."


BibTeX Entry

    title = "Isolating Cause-Effect Chains from Computer Programs",
    author = "Andreas Zeller",
    year = "2002",
    month = nov,
    address = "New York, NY, USA",
    booktitle = "SIGSOFT '02/FSE-10: Proceedings of the 10th ACM SIGSOFT symposium on Foundations of software
    location = "Charleston, South Carolina, USA",
    pages = "1--10",
    publisher = "ACM Press",
    ISBN = "1581135149",
    doi = "10.1145/587051.587053",

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