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Probing analysis of closed components

Marc Fisher, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Software is increasingly being built through the composition of exisiting components, such as web services, where access to the source code, and in some cases even the executable code, is unavailable. The users of these components must rely on the existing documentation of the component to understand how the component should be used. However, this documentation is often imprecise or incomplete (when generated automatically via static analysis) or does not match the current version of the service (when maintained manually). Additionally, users of closed components have no control over the delivered quality of the component, and currently rely of the developers' claims or ad-hoc testing to assess the quality of the component. In this work, we present probing analysis, a new analysis technique designed specifically to address these issues for closed components. ^ Probing analysis is a black-box dynamic analysis technique that probes a component by generating inputs for the component, executing the component on those inputs, and analyzing the inputs and outputs to infer properties that describe some aspect of the behavior of the component. We present a formal definition of probing analysis that can be used to guide the development of probing analysis techniques. We then develop a probing analysis methodology for web applications and web services called WebAppSleuth. ^ We have implemented versions of WebAppSleuth for web applications and for web services. We apply these versions to six production web applications and two commercial web services. WebAppSleuth was able to accurately and quickly infer properties for the six web application and found anomalous behavior in four of the web applications. Additionally WebAppSleuth was able to find several ways that the two web services could be improved. ^ These results suggest that probing analysis is a useful new technique for analyzing the behavior of software components and the provided definition of probing analysis provides a framework for the development of new probing analysis techniques. ^

Subject Area

Computer Science

Recommended Citation

Fisher, Marc, "Probing analysis of closed components" (2008). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3315322.