Automatically Finding Patches Using Genetic Programming

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Executive Summary

Automatic repair of programs has been a longstanding goal in software engineering, yet debugging remains a largely manual process. The authors 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.

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