The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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A Breakthrough in Diagnosing Software Failures

Tongping Liu

A research team led by Tongping Liu (ECE) has designed and implemented a novel tool that could automatically diagnose software issues within seconds. This tool is expected to put an end to hard-to-debug issues, especially for software running in deploy environments.


“No matter how much technology advances, software failure is always a concern,” said Liu, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at UMass. “Our novel diagnosis system, Watcher, can pinpoint root causes of program failures within the failing process, or ‘in-situ,’ eliminating privacy concerns. Watcher only reports failure reasons to programmers, instead of sharing the whole memory coredump.”


Watcher combines identical record-and-replay, binary analysis, dynamic analysis, and hardware support together to perform the diagnosis without human involvement. Research describing the Watcher system was recently published in The Proceedings of the Association for Computer Machinery on Programming Languages (OOPSLA’20), a top conference in Programming Language Field. Liu led the research team that included scientists from Purdue University, the University of Texas at San Antonio, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Liu started this project with his Ph.D. student Hongyu Liu, who was a part of the team, when he was working at the University of Texas at San Antonio.


Read the entire News Office Release here.

Watcher: In-Situ Failure Diagnosis for In-Production Software YouTube Video