A Case for Dynamic Reverse-code Generation to Debug Non-deterministic Programs

Jooyong Yi
(National University of Singapore)

Backtracking (i.e., reverse execution) helps the user of a debugger to naturally think backwards along the execution path of a program, and thinking backwards makes it easy to locate the origin of a bug. So far backtracking has been implemented mostly by state saving or by checkpointing. These implementations, however, inherently do not scale. Meanwhile, a more recent backtracking method based on reverse-code generation seems promising because executing reverse code can restore the previous states of a program without state saving. In the literature, there can be found two methods that generate reverse code: (a) static reverse-code generation that pre-generates reverse code through static analysis before starting a debugging session, and (b) dynamic reverse-code generation that generates reverse code by applying dynamic analysis on the fly during a debugging session. In particular, we espoused the latter one in our previous work to accommodate non-determinism of a program caused by e.g., multi-threading. To demonstrate the usefulness of our dynamic reverse-code generation, this article presents a case study of various backtracking methods including ours. We compare the memory usage of various backtracking methods in a simple but nontrivial example, a bounded-buffer program. In the case of non-deterministic programs such as this bounded-buffer program, our dynamic reverse-code generation outperforms the existing backtracking methods in terms of memory efficiency.

In Anindya Banerjee, Olivier Danvy, Kyung-Goo Doh and John Hatcliff: Semantics, Abstract Interpretation, and Reasoning about Programs: Essays Dedicated to David A. Schmidt on the Occasion of his Sixtieth Birthday (Festschrift for Dave Schmidt), Manhattan, Kansas, USA, 19-20th September 2013, Electronic Proceedings in Theoretical Computer Science 129, pp. 419–428.
Published: 19th September 2013.

ArXived at: http://dx.doi.org/10.4204/EPTCS.129.27 bibtex PDF
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