New research project: Finding software bugs automatically

Software defects often manifest themselves far from where the problem has actually occurred. In a new project, researchers from the IT University of Copenhagen want to build a technology that automatically detects and diagnoses deep-seated software errors. The project has received DKK 6 million from Independent Research Fund Denmark.

Computer Science DepartmentResearchsoftwaregrantsAndrzej WasowskiClaus Brabrand

Linux is the central operating system that drives everything from computers and smartphones to internet servers and car software. Occasionally, however, bugs occur in Linux, which for the user might involve a program crashing or failing to work. There are tools in existence that help programmers detect where in the code the bug has occurred, but these often point to the symptom, not the root cause of the error.

In the new research project INSIGHT, researchers from the IT University of Copenhagen will make it easier for programmers to find the actual cause of errors in Linux-based software.

"When a piece of software crashes, it means that there is a bug somewhere in the code. But interestingly enough, the cause of that error can often be found far from where it manifests itself. In this project, our approach is to shift the focus from the symptoms to the causes by creating a tool that shows programmers how to fix the problem," explains Professor Andrzej Wąsowski, who is heading the project.

New combination of academic disciplines

According to Andrzej Wąsowski, the basic idea of ​​the project is not new, but it has not previously been carried out, as the Linux kernel is extremely difficult to work with.

"So far, we have only seen smaller experiments in academic laboratories. In the INSIGHT project, we will try to bring this work into the real world by working with real software engineers and systems," he says.

The project brings together two research disciplines that usually do not collaborate – program analysis and program repair research. The ITU research team will collaborate with researchers from Carnegie Mellon University who have extensive expertise on the latter.

In addition, the project will involve the Linux Foundation and developers from the Linux company Red Hat.

Further information

Andrzej Wąsowski, Professor, phone +45 7218 5086, email

Vibeke Arildsen, Press Officer, phone 2555 0447, email