A study of backward compatible dynamic software update

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Dynamic software update (DSU) enables a program to update while it is running. DSU aims to minimize the loss due to program downtime for updates. Usually DSU is done in

Dynamic software update (DSU) enables a program to update while it is running. DSU aims to minimize the loss due to program downtime for updates. Usually DSU is done in three steps: suspending the execution of an old program, mapping the execution state from the old program to a new one, and resuming execution of the new program with the mapped state. The semantic correctness of DSU depends largely on the state mapping which is mostly composed by developers manually nowadays. However, the manual construction of a state mapping does not necessarily ensure sound and dependable state mapping. This dissertation presents a methodology to assist developers by automating the construction of a partial state mapping with a guarantee of correctness.

This dissertation includes a detailed study of DSU correctness and automatic state mapping for server programs with an established user base. At first, the dissertation presents the formal treatment of DSU correctness and the state mapping problem. Then the dissertation presents an argument that for programs with an established user base, dynamic updates must be backward compatible. The dissertation next presents a general definition of backward compatibility that specifies the allowed changes in program interaction between an old version and a new version and identified patterns of code evolution that results in backward compatible behavior. Thereafter the dissertation presents formal definitions of these patterns together with proof that any changes to programs in these patterns will result in backward compatible update. To show the applicability of the results, the dissertation presents SitBack, a program analysis tool that has an old version program and a new one as input and computes a partial state mapping under the assumption that the new version is backward compatible with the old version.

SitBack does not handle all kinds of changes and it reports to the user in incomplete part of a state mapping. The dissertation presents a detailed evaluation of SitBack which shows that the methodology of automatic state mapping is promising in deal with real world program updates. For example, SitBack produces state mappings for 17-75% of the changed functions. Furthermore, SitBack generates automatic state mapping that leads to successful DSU. In conclusion, the study presented in this dissertation does assist developers in developing state mappings for DSU by automating the construction of state mappings with a correctness guarantee, which helps the adoption of DSU ultimately.