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An Empirical Study of the Effectiveness of 'Forcing Diversity' Based on a Large Population of Diverse Programs

Popov, P. T., Stankovic, V. & Strigini, L. (2012). An Empirical Study of the Effectiveness of 'Forcing Diversity' Based on a Large Population of Diverse Programs. Paper presented at the ISSRE 2012, International Symposium on Software Reliability Engineering, 27 - 30 November 2012, Dallas, Texas, USA.


Use of diverse software components is a viable defence against common-mode failures in redundant softwarebased systems. Various forms of "Diversity-Seeking Decisions" (“DSDs”) can be applied to the process of developing, or procuring, redundant components, to improve the chances of the resulting components not failing on the same demands. An open question is how effective these decisions, and their combinations, are for achieving large enough reliability gains. Using a large population of software programs, we studied experimentally the effectiveness of specific "DSDs" (and their combinations) mandating differences between redundant components. Some of these combinations produced much better improvements in system probability of failure per demand (PFD) than "uncontrolled" diversity did. Yet, our findings suggest that the gains from such "DSDs" vary significantly between them and between the application problems studied. The relationship between DSDs and system PFD is complex and does not allow for simple universal rules
(e.g. "the more diversity the better") to apply.

Publication Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Publisher Keywords: design diversity, multiple version software, software fault tolerance, diversity-seeking decisions; reliability improvement, experimental study
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA76 Computer software
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Computer Science > Software Reliability
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