Pavneet Singh Kochhar, Xin Xia, David Lo, and Shanping Li

Software engineering practitioners often spend significant amount of time and effort to debug. To help practitioners perform this crucial task, hundreds of papers have proposed various automated debugging techniques. Automated debugging helps practitioners to find the location of a defect given its symptoms (e.g., program failures). These debugging techniques have pinpointed the locations of bugs of various systems of diverse sizes, with varying degrees of success, and for various usage scenarios. Unfortunately, it is unclear whether practitioners appreciate this line of research. To fill this gap, we perform an empirical study by surveying 386 practitioners from more than 30 countries across 5 continents about their perception of research in automated debugging. In particular, we investigate a number of factors that impact practitioners’ willingness to adopt an automated debugging technique. We then compare what practitioners need and the current state-of-research by performing a literature review of papers on automated debugging techniques published in ICSE, FSE, ESEC-FSE, ISSTA, TSE, and TOSEM in the last 5 years (2011-2015). From this comparison, we highlight the directions where researchers need to put effort to develop automated debugging techniques that matter to practitioners.