A Theory of Debugging Plans and Interpretations

Reid G. Simmons

We present a theory of debugging applicable for planning and interpretation problems. The debugger analyzes causal explanations for why a bug arises to locate the underlying assumptions upon which the bug depends. A bug is repaired by replacing assumptions, using a small set of domain-independent debugging strategies that reason about the causal explanations and domain models that encode the effects of events. Our analysis of the planning and interpretation tasks indicates that only a small set of assumptions and associated repair strategies are needed to handle a wide range of bugs over a large class of domains. Our debugging approach extends previous work in both debugging and domain-independent planning. The approach, however, is computationally expensive and so is used in the context of the Generate, Test and Debug paradigm, in which the debugger is used only if the heuristic generator produces an incorrect hypothesis.

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