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Symbolic execution.

A new software analysis tool could make complex analysis practical for programs that import huge swaths of code.

Credit: MIT News

Researchers at the University of Maryland and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory have moved closer to enabling symbolic execution of applications written via programming frameworks with a system called Pasket, which automatically builds models of framework libraries.

Symbolic execution goes through every single instruction a program executes for a broad range of input values, but it becomes unworkable with apps written on modern programming frameworks; this is because the framework includes massive libraries of regularly reused code.

"The only thing we care about is what crosses the boundary between the application and the framework," says MIT postdoctoral researcher Xiaokang Qiu. "The framework itself is like a black box that we want to abstract away."

The researchers built four software "design patterns" into Pasket, which attempts to fit any given group of program traces into each design pattern, selecting only the one with the best fit.

The team compared a model generated by the system with a popular, years-in-the-assembly model of Java's standard library of graphical-user-interface components, and determined the new model filled in several gaps in the other model.

From MIT News
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