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User-centered Program Analysis Tools



The research and industrial communities have made great strides in developing advanced software defect detection tools based on program analysis. Most of the work in this area has focused on developing novel program analysis algorithms to find bugs more efficiently or accurately, or to find more sophisticated kinds of bugs. However, the focus on algorithms often leads to tools that are complex and difficult to actually use to debug programs. We believe that we can design better, more useful program analysis tools by taking a user-centered approach. In this dissertation, we present three possible elements of such an approach. First, we improve the user interface by designing Path Projection, a toolkit for visualizing program paths, such as call stacks, that are commonly used to explain errors. We evaluated Path Projection in a user study and found that programmers were able to verify error reports more quickly with similar accuracy, and strongly preferred Path Projection to a standard code viewer. Second, we make it easier for programmers to combine different algorithms to customize the precision or efficiency of a tool for their target programs. We designedMix, a framework that allows programmers to apply either type checking, which i

Year: 2014
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