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Want a Computer That Never Crashes? Don't Let Bugs Freak It Out


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A rather large bug threatens a computer system.

Researchers think developers must come to accept software bugs as an unavoidable fact of life.

Credit: Marc Da Cunha Lopes

Developers' perception of software bugs must shift from something that must be found and removed at all costs to an unavoidable fact of life. Researchers think this could encourage the creation of computers that are more resilient to malfunctions to the point where crashes become a thing of the past.

"The idea here is immortal software," says the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Martin Rinard. More and more scientists are refocusing from bug removal to bug effect elimination, and Rinard has developed a method called failure-oblivious computing to avoid program crashes at all costs. His team's study of numerous bugs discovered programs can normally recover if they can circumvent a single obstacle. "More often than not, the program will take a little bit of a hit, right itself, and then keep going," Rinard says.

Another potential solution is to introduce some randomness into coding so software will be less crash-prone. The University of Massachusetts Amherst's Emery Berger is exploring this solution via his DieHard system, which responds to previous bug encounters by randomly selecting a slightly different way of running the software that will often evade the bug.

From New Scientist
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