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Java Pathfinder

Recently, Simon Doherty gave a short talk on using [[Java Pathfinder]] to find bugs in Java programs. Java Pathfinder is a model checker for Java code, particularly suited to reasoning about multi-threaded code and finding concurrency bugs. Roughly speaking, it searches through all of the different possible execution traces for a given piece of [[Java Bytecode]]. Different traces arise from the different possible schedules for executing threads. To do this, Java Pathfinder executes the Java Bytecode in a controlled fashion which allows it to go back and restart from different points with a different schedules. You have to provide some input, so it is really executing the code, rather than using [[symbolic execution]].

The reason Simon got interested in Java Pathfinder is simply that he had a concurrency bug that needed fixing.  Having never used it before, he managed to get it going fairly quickly and also find his bug — which really got him thinking that this was a useful tool.

Anyway, I’m not going to say too much more about it, since I haven’t looked more in detail yet.  But, it seems like a very impressive project, and definitely worth checking out.

Further Reading

  • The official Java Pathfinder page is here
  • Some useful news articles are here and here

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