A Proposal For An Intelligent Debugging Assistant

Unknown author (1988-01)

Working Paper

There are many ways to find bugs in programs. For example, observed input and output values can be compared to predicted values. An execution trace can be examined to locate errors in control flow. The utility of these and other strategies depends on the quality of the specifications available. The Debugging Assistant chooses the most appropriate debugging strategy based on the specification information available and the context of the bug. Particular attention has been given to applying techniques from the domain of hardware troubleshooting to the domain of software debugging. This has revealed two important differences between the two domains: (1) Unlike circuits, programs rarely come with complete specifications of their behavior, and (2) Unlike circuits, the cost of probing inputs and outputs of programs is low.