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Fault localization for automated program repair: effectiveness, performance, repair correctness

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Abstract

Automated program repair (APR) tools apply fault localization (FL) techniques to identify the locations of likely faults to be repaired. The effectiveness, performance, and repair correctness of APR depends in part on the FL method used. If FL does not identify the location of a fault, the application of an APR tool will not be effective—it will fail to repair the fault. If FL assigns the actual faulty statement a low priority for repair, APR performance will be reduced by increasing the time required to find a potential repair. In addition, the correctness of a generated repair will be decreased since APR will modify fault-free statements that are assigned a higher priority for repair than an actual faulty statement. We conducted a controlled experiment to evaluate the impact of ten FL techniques on APR effectiveness, performance, and repair correctness using a brute force APR tool applied to faulty versions of the Siemens Suite and two other large programs: space and sed. All FL techniques were effective in identifying all faults; however, Wong3 and Ample1 were the least effective FL techniques since they assigned the lowest priority for repair in more than 26 % of the trials. We obtained the worst APR performance significantly when Ample1 was used since it generated a large number of variants in 29.11 % of the trials, and took the longest time to produce potential repairs. Jaccard FL improved repair correctness by generating more validated repairs–potential repairs that pass a set of regression tests, and generating potential repairs that failed fewer regression tests. Also Jaccard’s performance is noteworthy in that it never generated a large number of variants during the repair process compared to the alternatives.

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Acknowledgments

This project was supported by the Ministry of Higher Education, Saudi Arabia. The authors would like to thank Westley Weimer and his research group for sharing GenProg tool and Qi et al. (2013) for sharing the GenProg-FL tool.

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Correspondence to Fatmah Yousef Assiri.

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Assiri, F.Y., Bieman, J.M. Fault localization for automated program repair: effectiveness, performance, repair correctness. Software Qual J 25, 171–199 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11219-016-9312-z

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Keywords

  • Automated program repair
  • Brute-force
  • Fault localization technique
  • Effectiveness
  • Performance
  • Repair correctness