Discovering, Reporting, and Fixing Performance Bugs

TitleDiscovering, Reporting, and Fixing Performance Bugs
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsNistor, A, Jiang, T, Tan, L
Refereed DesignationRefereed
Secondary Title10th Working Conference on Mining Software Repositories
Date Published05/2013
Keywordsbugs, eclipse, mozilla, performance bugs

Software performance is critical for how users perceive the quality of software products. Performance bugs---programming errors that cause significant performance degradation---lead to poor user experience and low system throughput. Designing effective techniques to address performance bugs requires a deep understanding of how performance bugs are discovered, reported, and fixed. In this paper, we study how performance bugs are discovered, reported to developers, and fixed by developers, and compare the results with those for non-performance bugs. We study performance and non-performance bugs from three popular code bases: Eclipse JDT, Eclipse SWT, and Mozilla. First, we find little evidence that fixing performance bugs has a higher chance to introduce new functional bugs than fixing non-performance bugs, which implies that developers may not need to be overconcerned about fixing performance bugs. Second, although fixing performance bugs is about as error-prone as fixing nonperformance bugs, fixing performance bugs is more difficult than fixing non-performance bugs, indicating that developers need better tool support for fixing performance bugs and testing performance bug patches. Third, unlike many non-performance bugs, a large percentage of performance bugs are discovered through code reasoning, not through users observing the negative effects of the bugs (e.g., performance degradation) or through profiling. The result suggests that techniques to help developers reason about performance, better test oracles, and better profiling techniques are needed for discovering performance bugs.

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