Bug in failure detector

There is a particularly hard bug to find in the coyote/Samples/Monitors sample application. If you run this application from your command prompt it will write output forever. It seems perfectly happy, right? But there is a bug that happens rarely, the kind of pesky bug that would keep you up late at night scratching your head. Read further to learn how to find this bug using Coyote!

What you will need

You will also need to:

Build the sample

You can build the sample by following the instructions here.

Run the sample

Let’s see if Coyote can find the bug in this sample. Type coyote -? to see the help page to make sure you have installed it correctly. Now you are ready to run a coyote test as follows:

coyote test ./Samples/bin/net8.0/Monitors.dll --iterations 1000 -ms 200

This also runs perfectly up to 1000 iterations. So this is indeed a hard bug to find. It can be found using the prioritization exploration strategy with a given maximum number of priority switch points --strategy prioritization (or with the default random exploration strategy, but with a much larger number of iterations, typically more than 100,000 of them).

coyote test ./Samples/bin/net8.0/Monitors.dll --iterations 1000 -ms 200 -s prioritization -sv 10

Even then you might need to run it a few times to catch the bug. Set --iterations to a bigger number if necessary. You can also let coyote decide which exploration strategy to use. Just use --strategy portfolio Coyote will select and run different exploration strategies for you. coyote manages the portfolio to give you the best chance of revealing bugs. These strategies were developed from real-world experience on large products in Microsoft Azure. When you use the right scheduling strategy, you will see a bug report:

... Task 0 found a bug.
... Emitting task 0 traces:
..... Writing .\Samples\bin\net8.0\Output\Monitors.exe\CoyoteOutput\Monitors_0_0.txt
..... Writing .\Samples\bin\net8.0\Output\Monitors.exe\CoyoteOutput\Monitors_0_0.trace

The *.txt file is the text log of the iteration that found the bug. The *.trace contains the information needed to reproduce the bug.

Finding a hard to find bug is one thing, but if you can’t reproduce this bug while debugging there is no point. So the *.trace can be used with the coyote replay command as follows:

coyote replay ./Samples/bin/net8.0/Monitors.dll 

. Reproducing trace in ./Samples/bin/net8.0/Monitors.exe
... Reproduced 1 bug.
... Elapsed 0.1724228 sec.

Attach a debugger during replay and you can see what exactly is going wrong.

You might be wondering what the Monitors sample app is really doing. The coyote command line tool can help you with that also. If you run the following command line it will produce a DGML diagram of the state machines that are being tested:

coyote test ./Samples/bin/net8.0/Monitors.dll --iterations 10 --max-steps 20 --actor-graph

You will see the following output:

... Emitting graph:
..... Writing .\Samples\bin\net8.0\Output\Monitors.exe\CoyoteOutput\Monitors_0_1.dgml

Open the DGML diagram using Visual Studio 2022 and you will see the following:


Download the Monitors.dgml file to view it interactively using Visual Studio. Make sure the downloaded file keeps the file extension .dgml. Use CTRL+A to select everything and this will show you all the detailed links as well.