Empirical evaluation of the tarantula automatic fault-localization technique


The high cost of locating faults in programs has motivated the development of techniques that assist in fault localization by automating part of the process of searching for faults. Empirical studies that compare these techniques have reported the relative effectiveness of four existing techniques on a set of subjects. These studies compare the rankings that the techniques compute for statements in the subject programs and the effectiveness of these rankings in locating the faults. However, it is unknown how these four techniques compare with Tarantula, another existing fault-localization technique, although this technique also provides a way to rank statements in terms of their suspiciousness. Thus, we performed a study to compare the Tarantula technique with the four techniques previously compared. This paper presents our study—it overviews the Tarantula technique along with the four other techniques studied, describes our experiment, and reports and discusses the results. Our studies show that, on the same set of subjects, the Tarantula technique consistently outperforms the other four techniques in terms of effectiveness in fault localization, and is comparable in efficiency to the least expensive of the other four techniques.

Proceedings of the 20th IEEE/ACM International Conference on Automated Software Engineering