Mining Temporal Specifications for Error Detection

  • Westley Weimer
  • George C. Necula
Conference paper

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-540-31980-1_30

Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 3440)
Cite this paper as:
Weimer W., Necula G.C. (2005) Mining Temporal Specifications for Error Detection. In: Halbwachs N., Zuck L.D. (eds) Tools and Algorithms for the Construction and Analysis of Systems. TACAS 2005. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 3440. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg


Specifications are necessary in order to find software bugs using program verification tools. This paper presents a novel automatic specification mining algorithm that uses information about error handling to learn temporal safety rules. Our algorithm is based on the observation that programs often make mistakes along exceptional control-flow paths, even when they behave correctly on normal execution paths. We show that this focus improves the effectiveness of the miner for discovering specifications beneficial for bug finding.

We present quantitative results comparing our technique to four existing miners. We highlight assumptions made by various miners that are not always born out in practice. Additionally, we apply our algorithm to existing Java programs and analyze its ability to learn specifications that find bugs in those programs. In our experiments, we find filtering candidate specifications to be more important than ranking them. We find 430 bugs in 1 million lines of code. Notably, we find 250 more bugs using per-program specifications learned by our algorithm than with generic specifications that apply to all programs.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Westley Weimer
    • 1
  • George C. Necula
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaBerkeley

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