Statistical Debugging Using Latent Topic Models

This research was conducted by David Andrzejewski, Anne Mulhern, Ben Liblit, and Xiaojin Zhu. The paper appeared in the 18th European Conference on Machine Learning (ECML 2007).


Statistical debugging uses machine learning to model program failures and help identify root causes of bugs. We approach this task using a novel Delta-Latent-Dirichlet-Allocation model. We model execution traces attributed to failed runs of a program as being generated by two types of latent topics: normal usage topics and bug topics. Execution traces attributed to successful runs of the same program, however, are modeled by usage topics only. Joint modeling of both kinds of traces allows us to identify weak bug topics that would otherwise remain undetected. We perform model inference with collapsed Gibbs sampling. In quantitative evaluations on four real programs, our model produces bug topics highly correlated to the true bugs, as measured by the Rand index. Qualitative evaluation by domain experts suggests that our model outperforms existing statistical methods for bug cause identification, and may help support other software tasks not addressed by earlier models.

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