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Design by Contract to improve Software Vigilance

by Yves Le Traon, Benoit Baudry, Jean-Marc Jézéquel
Abstract:
Design by Contract is a lightweight technique for embedding elements of formal specification (such as invariants, pre- and post-conditions) into an object-oriented design. When contracts are made executable, they can play the role of embedded, on-line oracles. Executable contracts allow components to be responsive to erroneous states, and thus may help in detecting and locating faults. In this paper, we define Vigilance as the degree to which a program is able to detect an erroneous state at runtime. Diagnosability represents the effort needed to locate a fault once it has been detected. In order to estimate the benefit of using Design by Contract, we formalize both notions of Vigilance and Diagnosability as software quality measures. The main steps of measure elaboration are given, from informal definitions of the factors to be measured to the mathematical model of the measures. As is the standard in this domain, the parameters are then fixed through actual measures, based on a mutation analysis in our case. Several measures are presented that reveal and estimate the contribution of contracts to the overall quality of a system in terms of vigilance and diagnosability.
Reference:
Design by Contract to improve Software Vigilance (Yves Le Traon, Benoit Baudry, Jean-Marc Jézéquel), In IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, IEEE, volume 32, 2006.
Bibtex Entry:
@article{letraon06a,
	Abstract = {Design by Contract is a lightweight technique for embedding elements of formal specification (such as invariants, pre- and post-conditions) into an object-oriented design. When contracts are made executable, they can play the role of embedded, on-line oracles. Executable contracts allow components to be responsive to erroneous states, and thus may help in detecting and locating faults. In this paper, we define Vigilance as the degree to which a program is able to detect an erroneous state at runtime. Diagnosability represents the effort needed to locate a fault once it has been detected. In order to estimate the benefit of using Design by Contract, we formalize both notions of Vigilance and Diagnosability as software quality measures. The main steps of measure elaboration are given, from informal definitions of the factors to be measured to the mathematical model of the measures. As is the standard in this domain, the parameters are then fixed through actual measures, based on a mutation analysis in our case. Several measures are presented that reveal and estimate the contribution of contracts to the overall quality of a system in terms of vigilance and diagnosability.},
	keywords = {test, contracts, OOP, selected},
	Author = {Le Traon, Yves and Baudry, Benoit and J{'e}z{'e}quel, Jean-Marc},
	Journal = {IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering},
	Month = aug,
	Number = {8},
	Pages = {571--586},
	Publisher = {IEEE},
	Title = {Design by Contract to improve Software Vigilance},
	url = {http://www.irisa.fr/triskell/publis/2006/letraon06a.pdf},
	Volume = {32},
	x-abbrv = {TSE},
	X-Editorial-Board = {yes},
	X-International-Audience = {yes},
	X-Language = {EN},
	X-Language = {EN},
	Year = {2006},}