Debugging – the process of identifying, localizing and fixing bugs – is a key activity in software development. Due to issues such as non-determinism and difficulties of reproducing failures, debugging concurrent software is significantly more challenging than debugging sequential software. A number of methods, models and tools for debugging concurrent and multicore software have been proposed, but the body of work partially lacks a common terminology and a more recent view of the problems to solve. This suggests the need for a classification, and an up-to-date comprehensive overview of the area.
This paper presents the results of a systematic mapping study in the field of debugging of concurrent and multicore software in the last decade (2005– 2014). The study is guided by two objectives: (1) to summarize the recent publication trends and (2) to clarify current research gaps in the field.
Through a multi-stage selection process, we identified 145 relevant papers. Based on these, we summarize the publication trend in the field by showing distribution of publications with respect to year , publication venues , representation of academia and industry , and active research institutes . We also identify research gaps in the field based on attributes such as types of concurrency bugs, types of debugging processes , types of research and research contributions.
The main observations from the study are that during the years 2005–2014: (1) there is no focal conference or venue to publish papers in this area, hence a large variety of conferences and journal venues (90) are used to publish relevant papers in this area; (2) in terms of publication contribution, academia was more active in this area than industry; (3) most publications in the field address the data race bug; (4) bug identification is the most common stage of debugging addressed by articles in the period; (5) there are six types of research approaches found, with solution proposals being the most common one; and (6) the published papers essentially focus on four different types of contributions, with ”methods” being the type most common one.
We can further conclude that there is still quite a number of aspects that are not sufficiently covered in the field, most notably including (1) exploring correction and fixing bugs in terms of debugging process; (2) order violation, suspension and starvation in terms of concurrency bugs; (3) validation and evaluation research in the matter of research type; (4) metric in terms of research contribution. It is clear that the concurrent, parallel and multicore software community needs broader studies in debugging.This systematic mapping study can help direct such efforts.