Poster: Practical Tools for Testing Concurrent Programs

Practical Tools for Testing Concurrent Programs

Where: Rice University Computer Science Department, Corporate Affiliates Meeting 2006
When: October 5, 2006

In our experience with developing production programs in Java,
unit testing has proven effective in assuring the reliability of code with a single thread of control. Unfortunately, unit testing has proved much less effective in assuring the reliability of code with multiple threads of control, often simply because the JUnit testing framework silently ignores failures in auxiliary threads. Java libraries and user programs frequently make assumptions about the threading context in which they execute, but these assumptions are rarely enforced by the actual code and typically only appear in program documentation. Since thread scheduling is non-deterministic, a unit test can succeed on one run and fail on the next, or repeatedly succeed on one platform and occasionally fail on another.

To improve test-driven development for concurrent programs, we are developing

  1. an extension of the JUnit framework, actively supporting the developer by treating tests that could silently ignore failures in auxiliary threads as test errors;
  2. a lightweight annotation language, which can be used to specify and check the threading properties of both existing and new code; and
  3. a testing framework that can execute unit tests according to a specified set of recorded or generated schedules, elevating the unit testing of concurrent programs to a rigorous, deterministic process.

About Mathias

Software development engineer. Principal developer of DrJava. Recent Ph.D. graduate from the Department of Computer Science at Rice University.
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