Experimental Program Analysis
J. Ruthruff, S. Elbaum, and G. Rothermel
Information and Software Technology,
V. 52, No. 4, April 2010, pages 359-379.


Program analysis techniques are used by software engineers to deduce and infer characteristics of software systems. Recent research has suggested that certain program analysis techniques can be formulated as formal experiments. This article reports the results of research exploring this suggestion. Building on principles and methodologies underlying the use of experimentation in other fields, we provide descriptive and operational definitions of experimental program analysis, illustrate them by example, and describe several differences between experimental program analysis and experimentation in other fields. We also explore the applicability of experimental program analysis to three software engineering problems: program transformation, program debugging, and program understanding. Our findings indicate that experimental program analysis techniques can provide new and potentially improved solutions to these problems, and suggest that experimental program analysis offers a promising new direction for program analysis research.