Publication Type

Conference Proceeding Article

Publication Date



Software engineering practitioners often spend significant amount of time and effort to debug. To help practitioners perform this crucial task, hundreds of papers have proposed various fault localization techniques. Fault localization helps practitioners to find the location of a defect given its symptoms (e.g., program failures). These localization techniques have pinpointed the locations of bugs of various systems of diverse sizes, with varying degrees of success, and for various usage scenarios. Unfortunately, it is unclear whether practitioners appreciate this line of research. To fill this gap, we performed an empirical study by surveying 386 practitioners from more than 30 countries across 5 continents about their expectations of research in fault localization. In particular, we investigated a number of factors that impact practitioners' willingness to adopt a fault localization technique. We then compared what practitioners need and the current state-of-research by performing a literature review of papers on fault localization techniques published in ICSE, FSE, ESEC-FSE, ISSTA, TSE, and TOSEM in the last 5 years (2011-2015). From this comparison, we highlight the directions where researchers need to put effort to develop fault localization techniques that matter to practitioners.


Empirical study, Fault localization, Practitioners' expectations


Digital Communications and Networking | Software Engineering

Research Areas

Software and Cyber-Physical Systems


Proceedings of the 25th ACM International Symposium on Software Testing and Analysis: ISSTA 2016, Saarbrucken, Germany; 2016 July 18-20




Association for Computing Machinery, Inc

City or Country

Saarbrucken, Germany

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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