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Exploring feature interactions without specifications: a controlled experiment

Larissa Rocha Soares, Jens Meinicke, Sarah Nadi, Christian Kästner, Eduardo Santana De Almeida

Abstract: In highly configurable systems, features may interact unexpectedly and produce faulty behavior. Those faults are not easily identified from the analysis of each feature separately, especially when feature specifications are missing. We propose VarXplorer, a dynamic and iterative approach to detect suspicious interactions. It provides information on how features impact the control and data flow of the program. VarXplorer supports developers with a graph that visualizes this information, mainly showing suppress and require relations between features. To evaluate whether VarXplorer helps improve the performance of identifying suspicious interactions, we perform a controlled study with 24 subjects. We find that with our proposed feature-interaction graphs, participants are able to identify suspicious interactions more than 3 times faster compared to the state-of-the-art tool.
Keywords: Feature Interaction / Controlled Experiment / Highly Configurable Systems

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