Overfitting in semantics-based automated program repair
Empirical Software Engineering
The primary goal of Automated Program Repair (APR) is to automatically fix buggy software, to reduce the manual bug-fix burden that presently rests on human developers. Existing APR techniques can be generally divided into two families: semantics-vs. heuristics-based. Semantics-based APR uses symbolic execution and test suites to extract semantic constraints, and uses program synthesis to synthesize repairs that satisfy the extracted constraints. Heuristic-based APR generates large populations
... f repair candidates via source manipulation, and searches for the best among them. Both families largely rely on a primary assumption that a program is correctly patched if the generated patch leads the program to pass all provided test cases. Patch correctness is thus an especially pressing concern. A repair technique may generate overfitting patches, which lead a program to pass all existing test cases, but fails to generalize beyond them. In this work, we revisit the overfitting problem with a focus on semantics-based APR techniques, complementing previous studies of the overfitting problem in heuristics-based APR. We perform our study using IntroClass and Codeflaws benchmarks, two datasets well-suited for assessing repair quality, to Communicated by: Empir Software Eng systematically characterize and understand the nature of overfitting in semantics-based APR. We find that similar to heuristics-based APR, overfitting also occurs in semanticsbased APR in various different ways.