BugRedux: Reproducing Field Failures for In-house Debugging
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When a software system fails in the field, on a user machine, and the failure is reported to the developers, developers in charge of debugging the failure must be able to reproduce the failing behavior in house. Unfortunately, reproducing field failures is a notoriously challenging task that has little support today. Typically, developers are provided with a bug report that contains data about the failure, such as memory dumps and, in the best case, some additional information provided by the user. However, this data is usually insufficient for recreating the problem, as recently reported in a survey conducted among developers of the Apache, Eclipse, and Mozilla projects. Even more advanced approaches for gathering field data and help in-house debugging tend to collect either too little information, which results in inexpensive but often ineffective techniques, or too much information, which makes the techniques effective but too costly. To address this issue, we present a novel general approach for supporting in-house debugging of field failures, called BUGREDUX. The goal of BUGREDUX is to synthesize, using execution data collected in the field, executions that mimic the observed field failures. We define several instances of BUGREDUX that collect different types of execution data and perform, through an empirical study, a cost-benefit analysis of the approach and its variations. In the study, we use a tool that implements our approach to recreate 17 failures of 15 realworld programs. Our results are promising and lead to several findings, some of which unexpected. In particular, they show that by collecting a suitable yet limited set of execution data the approach can synthesize in-house executions that reproduce the observed failures.
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