Section: New Results
Software engineering for infrastructure software
A kernel oops is an error report that logs the status of the Linux kernel at the time of a crash. Such a report can provide valuable first-hand information for a Linux kernel maintainer to conduct postmortem debugging. Recently, a repository has been created that systematically collects kernel oopses from Linux users. However, debugging based on only the information in a kernel oops is difficult. In a paper published at MSR  , we consider the initial problem of finding the offending line, i.e., the line of source code that incurs the crash. For this, we propose a novel algorithm based on approximate sequence matching, as used in bioinformatics, to automatically pinpoint the offending line based on information about nearby machine-code instructions, as found in a kernel oops. Our algorithm achieves 92% accuracy compared to 26% for the traditional approach of using only the oops instruction pointer.
2014 was the second year of a two-year cooperation between Julia Lawall and David Lo of Singapore Management University, as part of the Merlion cooperation grant program of the Insitut Français. This cooperation resulted in four papers: two on word similarity  ,  , one on bug localization  , and one on an empirical study of testing practices in open source software  . As an offshoot of this work, Julia Lawall worked with the PhD student Ripon Saha of UT Austin and his advisors on the topic of assessing the effectiveness of a state-of-the-art bug localization technique on C programs as compared to Java programs  . This work built on the C parser developed for Coccinelle.
Finally, with colleagues from Aalborg University and with Nicolas Palix of Grenoble, Julia Lawall published an article in Science of Computer Programming assessing the applicability of Coccinelle to checking the coding style guidelines of the CERT C Secure Coding Standard  .