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[Colloquium] Automatically Finding Patches Using Genetic Programming

February 25, 2010

Watch Colloquium: 

Quicktime file (454 MB)
AVI file (447 MB)


  • Date: Thursday, February 25th, 2010 
  • Time: 11 am — 12:15 pm 
  • Place: Mechanical Engineering, Room 218

Westley Weimer
Assistant Professor
Dept. of Computer Science
University of Virginia

Abstract: Automatic program repair has been a longstanding goal in software engineering, yet debugging remains a largely manual process. We introduce a fully automated method for locating and repairing bugs in software. The approach works on off-the-shelf legacy applications and does not require formal specifications, program annotations or special coding practices. Once a program fault is discovered, an extended form of genetic programing is used to evolve program variants until one is found that both retains required functionality and also avoids the defect in question. Standard test cases are used to exercise the fault and to encode program requirements. After a successful repair has been discovered, it is minimized using structural differencing algorithms and delta debugging. We describe the proposed method and report experimental results demonstrating that it can successfully and rapidly repair multiple types of defects from many different programs.