Concurrency Bugs : Characterization, Debugging and Runtime Verification

Abstract: Concurrent software has been increasingly adopted in recent years, mainly due to the introduction of multicore platforms. However, concurrency bugs are still difficult to test and debug due to their complex interactions involving multiple threads (or tasks). Typically, real world concurrent software has huge state spaces. Thus, testing techniques and handling of concurrency bugs need to focus on exposing the bugs in this large space. However, existing solutions typically do not provide debugging information to developers (and testers) for understanding the bugs.Our work focuses on improving concurrent software reliability via three contributions: 1) An investigation of concurrent software challenges with the aim to help developers (and testers) to better understand concurrency bugs. We propose a classification of concurrency bugs and discuss observable properties of each type of bug. In addition, we identify a number of gaps in the body of knowledge on concurrent software bugs and their debugging. 2) Exploring concurrency related bugs in real-world software with respect to the reproducibility of bugs, severity of their consequence and effort required to fix them. Our findings here is that concurrency bugs are different from other bugs in terms of their fixing time and severity, while they are similar in terms of reproducibility. 3) A model for monitoring concurrency bugs and the implementation and evaluation of a related runtime verification tool to detect the bugs. In general, runtime verification techniques are used to (a) dynamically verify that the observed behaviour matches specified properties and (b) explicitly recognize understandable behaviors in the considered software. Our implemented tool is used to detect concurrency bugs in embedded software and is in its current form tailored for the FreeRTOS operating system. It helps developers and testers to automatically identify concurrency bugs and subsequently helps to reduce their finding and fixing time.