Fast Shadow Execution for Debugging Numerical Errors using Error Free Transformations
This paper proposes, EFTSanitizer, a fast shadow execution framework for detecting and debugging numerical errors during late stages of testing especially for long-running applications. Any shadow execution framework needs an oracle to compare against the floating point (FP) execution. This paper makes a case for using error free transformations, which is a sequence of operations to compute the error of a primitive operation with existing hardware supported FP operations, as an oracle for shadow execution. Although the error of a single correctly rounded FP operation is bounded, the accumulation of errors across operations can result in exceptions, slow convergences, and even crashes. To ease the job of debugging such errors, EFTSanitizer provides a directed acyclic graph (DAG) that highlights the propagation of errors, which results in exceptions or crashes. Unlike prior work, DAGs produced by EFTSanitizer include operations that span various function calls while keeping the memory usage bounded. To enable the use of such shadow execution tools with long-running applications, EFTSanitizer also supports starting the shadow execution at an arbitrary point in the dynamic execution, which we call selective shadow execution. EFTSanitizer is an order of magnitude faster than prior state-of-art shadow execution tools such as FPSanitizer and Herbgrind. We have discovered new numerical errors and debugged them using EFTSanitizer.