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Simon Eskow, TechBlog Editor. 14 July 2015, 10:35 am

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently presented a paper about a system that repairs software bugs by automatically importing functionality from other applications, without requiring access to the donor application's source code.

The paper, presented to the Association for Computing Machinery Programming Design and Implementation Conference in June, described a system dubbed CodePhage, which analyses an application execution, characterises the types of security checks it performs, then imports checks from applications written in other programming languages.  

Lead researcher Stelios Sidiroglou-Douskos told MIT News:

We have tons of source code available in open-source repositories, millions of projects, and a lot of these projects implement similar specifications Even though that might not be the core functionality of the program, they frequently have subcomponents that share functionality across a large number of projects.

The potential for CodePhage, he adds, is to build a "hybrid system that takes the best components from all these implementations" over time.

Researchers say the long term vision is to never have to originate a piece of code that has already been written, and to automatically find that code.

CodePhage analyses programming with two sample inputs, one that causes an application to crash and one that doesn't. CodePhage feeds the "safe" input to a donor application, then tracks the sequence of operations the donor. CodePhage then feeds the donor the crash-inducing input and compares how the coding expression diverges from the old one.


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