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The Daikon invariant detector

Daikon is an implementation of dynamic detection of likely invariants; that is, the Daikon invariant detector reports likely program invariants. An invariant is a property that holds at a certain point or points in a program; these are often seen in assert statements, documentation, and formal specifications. Invariants can be useful in program understanding and a host of other applications. Examples include “x.field > abs(y)”; “y = 2*x+3”; “array a is sorted”; “for all list objects lst, lst.next.prev = lst”; “for all treenode objects n, n.left.value < n.right.value”; “p != null => p.content in myArray”; and many more. You can extend Daikon to add new properties (see Enhancing Daikon output, or see New invariants in Daikon Developer Manual).

Dynamic invariant detection runs a program, observes the values that the program computes, and then reports properties that were true over the observed executions. Daikon can detect properties in C, C++, C#, Eiffel, F#, Java, Perl, and Visual Basic programs; in spreadsheet files; and in other data sources. (Dynamic invariant detection is a machine learning technique that can be applied to arbitrary data.) It is easy to extend Daikon to other applications.

Daikon is freely available for download from http://plse.cs.washington.edu/daikon/download. Daikon’s license permits unrestricted use. The distribution includes both source code (also available on GitHub) and documentation, Many researchers and practitioners have used Daikon; those uses, and Daikon itself, are described in various publications.

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