Publications

Our teams aspire to make discoveries that impact everyone, and core to our approach is sharing our research and tools to fuel progress in the field.

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Our teams aspire to make discoveries that impact everyone, and core to our approach is sharing our research and tools to fuel progress in the field.

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1 - 15 of 272 publications
    Broadly Enabling KLEE to Effortlessly Find Unrecoverable Errors
    Ying Zhang
    Peng Li
    Lingxiang Wang
    Na Meng
    Dan Williams
    (2024)
    Preview abstract Rust is a general-purpose programming language designed for performance and safety. Unrecoverable errors (e.g., Divide by Zero) in Rust programs are critical, as they signal bad program states and terminate programs abruptly. Previous work has contributed to utilizing KLEE, a dynamic symbolic test engine, to verify the program would not panic. However, it is difficult for engineers who lack domain expertise to write test code correctly. Besides, the effectiveness of KLEE in finding panics in production Rust code has not been evaluated. We created an approach, called PanicCheck, to hide the complexity of verifying Rust programs with KLEE. Using PanicCheck, engineers only need to annotate the function-to-verify with #[panic_check]. The annotation guides PanicCheck to generate test code, compile the function together with tests, and execute KLEE for verification. After applying PanicCheck to 21 open-source and 2 closed-source projects, we found 61 test inputs that triggered panics; 60 of the 61 panics have been addressed by developers so far. Our research shows promising verification results by KLEE, while revealing technical challenges in using KLEE. Our experience will shed light on future practice and research in program verification. View details
    Resolving Code Review Comments with Machine Learning
    Alexander Frömmgen
    Peter Choy
    Elena Khrapko
    Marcus Revaj
    2024 IEEE/ACM 46th International Conference on Software Engineering: Software Engineering in Practice (ICSE-SEIP) (to appear)
    Preview abstract Code reviews are a critical part of the software development process, taking a significant amount of the code authors’ and the code reviewers’ time. As part of this process, the reviewer inspects the proposed code and asks the author for code changes through comments written in natural language. At Google, we see millions of reviewer comments per year, and authors require an average of ∼60 minutes active shepherding time between sending changes for review and finally submitting the change. In our measurements, the required active work time that the code author must devote to address reviewer comments grows almost linearly with the number of comments. However, with machine learning (ML), we have an opportunity to automate and streamline the code-review process, e.g., by proposing code changes based on a comment’s text. We describe our application of recent advances in large sequence models in a real-world setting to automatically resolve code-review comments in the day-to-day development workflow at Google. We present the evolution of this feature from an asynchronous generation of suggested edits after the reviewer sends feedback, to an interactive experience that suggests code edits to the reviewer at review time. In deployment, code-change authors at Google address 7.5% of all reviewer comments by applying an ML-suggested edit. The impact of this will be to reduce the time spent on code reviews by hundreds of thousands of engineer hours annually at Google scale. Unsolicited, very positive feedback highlights that the impact of ML-suggested code edits increases Googlers’ productivity and allows them to focus on more creative and complex tasks. View details
    Dynamic Inference of Likely Symbolic Tensor Shapes in Python Machine Learning Programs
    Koushik Sen
    International Conference on Software Engineering: Software Engineering in Practice (ICSE-SEIP)(2024) (to appear)
    Preview abstract In machine learning programs, it is often tedious to annotate the dimensions of shapes of various tensors that get created during execution. We present a dynamic likely tensor shape inference analysis that annotates the dimensions of shapes of tensor expressions with symbolic dimension values. Such annotations can be used for understanding the machine learning code written in popular frameworks, such as TensorFlow, PyTorch, JAX, and for finding bugs related to tensor shape mismatch. View details
    Preview abstract This paper reflects on work at Google over the past decade to address common types of software safety and security defects. Our experience has shown that software safety is an emergent property of the software and tooling ecosystem it is developed in and the production environment into which it is deployed. Thus, to effectively prevent common weaknesses at scale, we need to shift-left the responsibility for ensuring safety and security invariants to the end-to-end developer ecosystem, that is, programming languages, software libraries, application frameworks, build and deployment tooling, the production platform and its configuration surfaces, and so forth. Doing so is practical and cost effective when developer ecosystems are designed with application archetypes in mind, such as web or mobile apps: The design of the developer ecosystem can address threat model aspects that apply commonly to all applications of the respective archetype, and investments to ensure safety invariants at the ecosystem level amortize across many applications. Applying secure-by-design principles to developer ecosystems at Google has achieved drastic reduction and in some cases near-zero residual rates of common classes of defects, across hundreds of applications being developed by thousands of developers. View details
    Secure by Design at Google
    Google Security Engineering(2024)
    Preview abstract This whitepaper provides an overview of Google's approach to secure design. View details
    Preview abstract The article summarizes the unique challenges and strategies required for a successful GTM (Go to market) strategy in enterprise world. We cover how enterprise PM function is unique from regular PM, and why enterprise PMs must look at distribution as an inherent product process. We also share a framework for thinking about various components of GTM strategy. Key aspects include customer segmentation, account acquisition strategies, product packaging, positionining and marketing; and technical enablement and content distribution. View details
    Characterizing a Memory Allocator at Warehouse Scale
    Zhuangzhuang Zhou
    Nilay Vaish
    Patrick Xia
    Christina Delimitrou
    Proceedings of the 29th ACM International Conference on Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems, Volume 3, Association for Computing Machinery, La Jolla, CA, USA(2024), 192–206
    Preview abstract Memory allocation constitutes a substantial component of warehouse-scale computation. Optimizing the memory allocator not only reduces the datacenter tax, but also improves application performance, leading to significant cost savings. We present the first comprehensive characterization study of TCMalloc, a warehouse-scale memory allocator used in our production fleet. Our characterization reveals a profound diversity in the memory allocation patterns, allocated object sizes and lifetimes, for large-scale datacenter workloads, as well as in their performance on heterogeneous hardware platforms. Based on these insights, we redesign TCMalloc for warehouse-scale environments. Specifically, we propose optimizations for each level of its cache hierarchy that include usage-based dynamic sizing of allocator caches, leveraging hardware topology to mitigate inter-core communication overhead, and improving allocation packing algorithms based on statistical data. We evaluate these design choices using benchmarks and fleet-wide A/B experiments in our production fleet, resulting in a 1.4% improvement in throughput and a 3.4% reduction in RAM usage for the entire fleet. At our scale, even a single percent CPU or memory improvement translates to significant savings in server costs. View details
    Productive Coverage: Improving the Actionability of Code Coverage
    Gordon
    Luka Kalinovcic
    Mateusz Lewko
    Rene Just
    Yana Kulizhskaya
    ICSE-SEIP '24: Proceedings of the 46th International Conference on Software Engineering: Software Engineering in Practice(2024) (to appear)
    Preview abstract Code coverage is an intuitive and established test adequacy measure. However, not all parts of the code base are equally important, and hence additional testing may be critical for some uncovered code, whereas it may not be worthwhile for other uncovered code. As a result, simply visualizing uncovered code is not reliably actionable. To make code coverage actionable and further improve code coverage in our codebase, we developed Productive Coverage — a novel approach to code coverage that guides developers to uncovered code that that should be tested by (unit) tests. Specifically, Productive Coverage identifies uncovered code that is similar to existing code, which in turn is tested and/or frequently executed in production. We implemented and evaluated Productive Coverage for four programming languages (C++, Java, Go, and Python). The evaluation shows: (1) The developer sentiment, measured at the point of use, is strongly positive; (2) Productive Coverage meaningfully increases code coverage above a strong baseline; (3) Productive Coverage has no negative effect on code authoring efficiency; (4) Productive Coverage modestly improves code-review effiency; (5) Productive Coverage directly improves code quality and prevents bugs from being introduced, in addition to improving test quality View details
    Preview abstract This is the seventh installment of the Developer Productivity for Humans column. This installment focuses on software quality: what it means, how developers see it, how we break it down into 4 types of quality, and the impact these have on each other. View details
    Preview abstract AI-powered software development tooling is changing the way that developers interact with tools and write code. However, the ability for AI to truly transform software development depends on developers' level of trust in the tools. In this work, we take a mixed methods approach to measuring the factors that influence developers' trust in AI-powered code completion. We identified that familiarity with AI suggestions, quality of the suggestion, and level of expertise with the language all increased acceptance rate of AI-powered suggestions. While suggestion length and presence in a test file decreased acceptance rates. Based on these findings we propose recommendations for the design of AI-powered development tools to improve trust. View details
    Preview abstract The evolution of AI is a pivotal moment in history, but it’s not the first time we have experienced technological advances that have changed how humans work. By looking at the advances in automobiles, we are reminded of the importance of focusing on our developers' needs and goals. View details
    API Governance at Scale
    Mak Ahmad
    JJ Geewax
    David R Karger
    Kwan-Liu Ma
    ICSE 2024 Software Engineering in Practice(2024)
    Preview abstract API Governance, the process of applying standardized sets of policies and guardrails to the design and development of APIs, has only grown in importance and prominence given the continued growth in APIs being produced. In this paper, we present an Action Research style approach to investigate and understand the utility of a multi-faceted API Governance process being adopted inside Google. We first reflect on past research around API Governance, and then introduce three new components, 1. API Improvement Proposals (AIPs) the documented source of truth for API design rules, 2. API Linter, an automated analysis tool which checks for adherence to / violations of AIPs, and 3. API Readability, a program to educate and certify API design experts. These three components are designed to build upon pre-existing processes to scale and improve API design. Through a mixed-methods research strategy, containing both a survey and a series of interviews, we evaluate the utility of these approaches in supporting API Producers. Our research shows that API Producers have positive sentiment towards API Governance, validating the general direction of the program. Specifically, our study participants highlighted the positive impact of API Governance on the quality of the APIs they produced, via consistency in both the outcome and approach. This paper also discusses future research opportunities to enhance API Governance, specifically with regards to newer API Producers, who reported worse sentiment towards the program than their more experienced peers. View details
    Meta-Manager: A Tool for Collecting and Exploring Meta Information about Code
    Amber Horvath
    Brad A. Myers
    CHI '24: Proceedings of the CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems(2024)
    Preview abstract Modern software engineering is in a state of flux. With more development utilizing AI code generation tools and the continued reliance on online programming resources, understanding code and the original intent behind it is becoming more important than it ever has been. To this end, we have developed the “Meta-Manager”, a Visual Studio Code extension, with a supplementary browser extension, that automatically collects and organizes changes made to code while keeping track of the provenance of each part of the code, including code that has been copy-pasted from popular programming resources online. These sources and subsequent changes are represented in the editor and may be explored using searching and filtering mechanisms to help developers answer historically hard-to-answer questions about code, its provenance, and its design rationale. In our evaluation of Meta-Manager, we found developers were successfully able to use it to answer otherwise unanswerable questions about an unfamiliar code base. View details
    AI-Enhanced API Design: A New Paradigm in Usability and Efficiency
    Mak Ahmad
    David R Karger
    Kwan-Liu Ma
    CHI EA '24: Extended Abstracts of the 2024 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems(2024)
    Preview abstract This study uses mixed methods to evaluate API design methods, focusing on design and consumption phases. Our goal was to understand the impact of API governance approaches on productivity and usability. A controlled developer experiment (n=34) demonstrated a 10% increased requirement fulfillment using API Improvement Proposals (AIPs) and linter versus no protocols. Meanwhile, 73% of 33 surveyed API consumers preferred AIP-aligned designs for enhanced usability and comprehensibility. Complementing this, a custom large language model called the API Architect received average expert ratings of just 5/10 for specification quality, revealing gaps versus manual design. The quantitative performance metrics combined with qualitative user feedback provide evidence from multiple angles that strategically integrating industry best practices with maturing AI capabilities can meaningfully improve API design outcomes. This research offers empirical insights from developer and consumer perspectives to advance scholarly discourse and industry practice regarding optimal API design workflows. View details
    Preview abstract At Google, we’ve been running a quarterly large-scale survey with developers since 2018. In this article, we will discuss how we run EngSat, some of our key learnings over the past 6 years, and how we’ve evolved our approach to meet new needs and challenges. View details