Adaptive Bug Isolation

This research was conducted by Piramanayagam Arumuga Nainar and Ben Liblit. The paper appeared in the ACM SIGSOFT / IEEE 32nd International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE 2010).


Statistical debugging uses lightweight instrumentation and statistical models to identify program behaviors that are strongly predictive of failure. However, most software is mostly correct; nearly all monitored behaviors are poor predictors of failure. We propose an adaptive monitoring strategy that mitigates the overhead associated with monitoring poor failure predictors. We begin by monitoring a small portion of the program, then automatically refine instrumentation over time to zero in on bugs. We formulate this approach as a search on control-dependence graph of the program. We present and evaluate various heuristics that can be used for this search. We also discuss the construction of a binary instrumentor for incorporating the feedback loop into post-deployment monitoring. Performance measurements show that adaptive bug isolation yields an average performance overhead of 1% for a class of large applications, as opposed to 87% for realistic sampling-based instrumentation and 300% for complete binary instrumentation.

Full Paper

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