Hang bugs — when software gets stuck, but doesn’t crash — can frustrate both users and programmers, taking weeks for companies to identify and fix. Now researchers from North Carolina State University have developed software that can spot and fix the problems in seconds.
“Many of us have experience with hang bugs — think of a time when you were on website and the wheel just kept spinning and spinning,” says Helen Gu, co-author of a paper on the work and a professor of computer science at NC State. “Because these bugs don’t crash the program, they’re hard to detect. But they can frustrate or drive away customers and hurt a company’s bottom line.”
With that in mind, Gu and her collaborators developed an automated program, called HangFix, that can detect hang bugs, diagnose the relevant problem, and apply a patch that corrects the root cause of the error. Video of Gu discussing the program can be found here.
The researchers tested a prototype of HangFix against 42 real-world hang bugs in 10 commonly used cloud server applications. The bugs were drawn from a database of hang bugs that programmers discovered affecting various websites. HangFix fixed 40 of the bugs in seconds.
“The remaining two bugs were identified and partially fixed, but required additional input from programmers who had relevant domain knowledge of the application,” Gu says.
For comparison, it took weeks or months to detect, diagnose and fix those hang bugs when they were first discovered.
“We’re optimistic that this tool will make hang bugs less common — and websites less frustrating for many users,” Gu says. “We are working to integrate Hangfix into InsightFinder.” InsightFinder is the AI-based IT operations and analytics startup founded by Gu.
The paper, “HangFix: Automatically Fixing Software Hang Bugs for Production Cloud Systems,”
Here’s What You Need To Remember: While the F-35 continues to be an advanced fighter jet, there are times when it is clear that upgrading an old war bird like the B-52 is often a lot easier than working out the bugs in what should be a state-of-the-art fighter jet.
Introduced in the 1950s, the B-52 Stratofortress has remained in service thanks in part to the numerous upgrades it has received over the years. In fact, because it was introduced before the days of advanced computers, the B-52 has actually been at times much easier to update than more modern aircraft.
By contrast, the U.S. military’s highly advanced F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which was developed with the latest and greatest aviation computer systems and software, has had no shortage of problems and bugs to work out, while upgrades have been anything but easy.
Since its introduction, the F-35s ground-based ALIS logistical system, intended to streamline reporting and implement predictive maintenance, has for years remained buggy to the point of “dysfunctionality” – requiring constant manual inputs and workarounds when automated systems failed to do what they were supposed to do.
The problem with software has been so great that earlier this year, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) even warned that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, despite producing more aircraft and at negotiated lower prices in 2019, is not meeting the standards that the aircraft’s customers might have expected.
The good news is that the F-35’s next tech upgrade could address many of the issues, but the bad news is that it could also just add billions more to the cost of the aircraft Ars Technica reported this week.
Third Time’s the Charm:
The Tech Refresh 3 program for the fifth-generation stealth fighter will include an upgrade of