Computer Science and Engineering, Department of


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A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Computer Science, Under the Supervision of Witawas Srisa-an and Matthew Dwyer. Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2010
Copyright 2010 Peng Du


Observability measures the support of computer systems to accurately capture, analyze, and present (collectively observe) the internal information about the systems. Observability frameworks play important roles for program understanding, troubleshooting, performance diagnosis, and optimizations. However, traditional solutions are either expensive or coarse-grained, consequently compromising their utility in accommodating today’s increasingly complex software systems. New solutions are emerging for VM-based languages due to the full control language VMs have over program executions. Existing such solutions, nonetheless, still lack flexibility, have high overhead, or provide limited context information for developing powerful dynamic analyses. In this thesis, we present a VM-based infrastructure, called marker tracing framework (MTF), to address the deficiencies in the existing solutions for providing better observability for VM-based languages. MTF serves as a solid foundation for implementing fine-grained low-overhead program instrumentation. Specifically, MTF allows analysis clients to: 1) define custom events with rich semantics ; 2) specify precisely the program locations where the events should trigger; and 3) adaptively enable/disable the instrumentation at runtime. In addition, MTF-based analysis clients are more powerful by having access to all information available to the VM. To demonstrate the utility and effectiveness of MTF, we present two analysis clients: 1) dynamic typestate analysis with adaptive online program analysis (AOPA); and 2) selective probabilistic calling context analysis (SPCC). In addition, we evaluate the runtime performance of MTF and the typestate client with the DaCapo benchmarks. The results show that: 1) MTF has acceptable runtime overhead when tracing moderate numbers of marker events; and 2) AOPA is highly effective in reducing the event frequency for the dynamic typestate analysis; and 3) language VMs can be exploited to offer greater observability.