Seminar - The Future of Debugging

School of Engineering and Computer Science Seminar

Speaker: Dr Rob O’Callahan (Pernosco, New Zealand)
Time: Thursday 25th March 2021 at 03:00 PM - 04:00 PM
Location: Cotton 431

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Developers spend a lot of time debugging. Lots of research has been done on record-and-replay systems and other advanced debugging tools, but industry adoption has been slow. We’ll talk about ongoing efforts to improve debugging in practice in the context of the “rr” and “Pernosco” debuggers. rr is a state-of-the-art open-source record/replay/reverse debugger for C/C++/Rust on Linux which is seeing a lot of adoption. Pernosco is a considerably more ambitious cloud-based omniscient debugger for a similar target market. I will give an overview of the technology behind these debuggers, their strengths and weaknesses, and what we’re learning from the people using (and not using) them.

Bio: Robert O’Callahan obtained a PhD in static program analysis from CMU in 2001, advised by Daniel Jackson and Jeannette Wing. He worked on dynamic analysis at IBM Research, then dived into full-time browser engine development for Mozilla for ten years, where he became a Distinguished Engineer and also led the development of rr. In 2016 he left Mozilla to work on debugging full time, cofounding the Pernosco project.


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