Automatically finding patches using genetic programming

Westley Weimer, Thanh Vu Nguyen, Claire Le Goues, Stephanie Forrest

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

557 Scopus citations


Automatic program repair has been a longstanding goal in software engineering, yet debugging remains a largely manual process. We introduce a fully automated method for locating and repairing bugs in software. The approach works on off-the-shelf legacy applications and does not require formal specifications, program annotations or special coding practices. Once a program fault is discovered, an extended form of genetic programming is used to evolve program variants until one is found that both retains required functionality and also avoids the defect in question. Standard test cases are used to exercise the fault and to encode program requirements. After a successful repair has been discovered, it is minimized using structural differencing algorithms and delta debugging. We describe the proposed method and report experimental results demonstrating that it can successfully repair ten different C programs totaling 63,000 lines in under 200 seconds, on average.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2009 31st International Conference on Software Engineering - Proceedings, ICSE 2009
Number of pages11
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009
Externally publishedYes
Event2009 31st International Conference on Software Engineering, ICSE 2009 - Vancouver, BC, Canada
Duration: May 16 2009May 24 2009

Publication series

NameProceedings - International Conference on Software Engineering
ISSN (Print)0270-5257


Other2009 31st International Conference on Software Engineering, ICSE 2009
CityVancouver, BC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software


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