Extracting and Answering Why and Why Not Questions About Java Program Output

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Executive Summary

When software developers want to understand the reason for a program's behavior, they must translate their questions about the behavior into a series of questions about code, speculating about the causes in the process. The Whyline is a new kind of debugging tool that avoids such speculation by instead enabling developers to select a question about program output from a set of "Why did and why didn't" questions extracted from the program's code and execution. The tool then finds one or more possible explanations for the output in question. These explanations are derived using a static and dynamic slicing, precise call graphs, reachability analyses, and new algorithms for determining potential sources of values.

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