Software Engineering

At Google, we pride ourselves on our ability to develop and launch new products and features at a very fast pace. This is made possible in part by our world-class engineers, but our approach to software development enables us to balance speed and quality, and is integral to our success. Our obsession for speed and scale is evident in our developer infrastructure and tools. Developers across the world continually write, build, test and release code in multiple programming languages like C++, Java, Python, Javascript and others, and the Engineering Tools team, for example, is challenged to keep this development ecosystem running smoothly. Our engineers leverage these tools and infrastructure to produce clean code and keep software development running at an ever-increasing scale. In our publications, we share associated technical challenges and lessons learned along the way.

Recent Publications

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
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
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
Broadly Enabling KLEE to Effortlessly Find Unrecoverable Errors
Ying Zhang
Peng Li
Lingxiang Wang
Na Meng
Dan Williams
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
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
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