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Design by Contract to Improve Software Vigilance
August 2006 (vol. 32 no. 8)
pp. 571-586
Design by Contract is a lightweight technique for embedding elements of formal specification (such as invariants, pre and postconditions) into an object-oriented design. When contracts are made executable, they can play the role of embedded, online oracles. Executable contracts allow components to be responsive to erroneous states and, thus, may help in detecting and locating faults. In this paper, we define Vigilance as the degree to which a program is able to detect an erroneous state at runtime. Diagnosability represents the effort needed to locate a fault once it has been detected. In order to estimate the benefit of using Design by Contract, we formalize both notions of Vigilance and Diagnosability as software quality measures. The main steps of measure elaboration are given, from informal definitions of the factors to be measured to the mathematical model of the measures. As is the standard in this domain, the parameters are then fixed through actual measures, based on a mutation analysis in our case. Several measures are presented that reveal and estimate the contribution of contracts to the overall quality of a system in terms of vigilance and diagnosability.

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Index Terms:
Object-oriented design methods, programming by contract, diagnostics, metrics.
Citation:
Yves Le Traon, Benoit Baudry, Jean-Marc J?z?quel, "Design by Contract to Improve Software Vigilance," IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, vol. 32, no. 8, pp. 571-586, Aug. 2006, doi:10.1109/TSE.2006.79
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