Bisection (software engineering)

(Redirected from Code Bisection)

Bisection is a method used in software development to identify change sets that result in a specific behavior change. It is mostly employed for finding the patch that introduced a bug. Another application area is finding the patch that indirectly fixed a bug.

Phoronix Test Suite can do bisection to automatically find performance regressions.

Overview

Code bisection has the goal of minimizing the effort to find a specific change set.

It employs a divide and conquer algorithm that depends on having access to the code history which is usually preserved by revision control in a code repository.

The bisection method

Code bisection algorithm

Code history has the structure of an directed acyclic graph which can be topologically sorted. This makes it possible to use a divide and conquer search algorithm which:

• splits up the search space of candidate revisions
• tests for the behavior in question
• reduces the search space depending on the test result
• re-iterates the steps above until at most one patch candidate remains

Algorithmic complexity

Bisection is in LSPACE having an algorithmic complexity of $O(\log N)$ with $N$ denoting the number of revisions in the search space, and is similar to a binary search.

Desirable repository properties

For code bisection it is desirable that each revision in the search space can be compiled and tested independently.

Support by revision control systems

Revision control systems like Git or Mercurial directly support[1][2] code bisection.

Other revision control systems like Bazaar or Subversion support it indirectly employing plugins[3] or external scripts.[4]