CERN uses static analysis to find more than 40,000 software defects

Technology News |
By eeNews Europe

Since integrating Coverity’s solution, CERN has eliminated more than 40,000 software defects that could otherwise impact the accuracy of its pioneering particle physics research. One of LHC’s core software ingredients, ROOT, is a software program used by CERN’s physicists to store, analyse, and visualise petabytes of data about the LHC experiment.

“Better quality software translates to better research results,” said Axel Naumann, a member of CERN’s ROOT Development Team. “Like CERN, Coverity finds the unknown; its development testing solution, Coverity Static Analysis, discovers the rare, unpredictable cases that can’t be recreated in a test environment.”

The integrity of ROOT’s software is integral to the research conducted at CERN. Every second, scientists at CERN oversee 600 million particle collisions that will help to redefine the way we view the universe. The collisions, which involve trillions of protons travelling at almost the speed of light, take place in the LHC, the world’s most powerful particle accelerator. The experiments conducted around the LHC generate approximately 15 petabytes data per year, equivalent to 15,000 standard disk drives.

Given the size and scale of these experiments, CERN has implemented a number of processes to ensure data generated by the LHC experiments is accurate and as bug free as possible. “ROOT is used by all 10,000 physicists, so software integrity is a major issue,” added Naumann. “A bug in ROOT can have a significant negative impact on the results of the LHC experiments and physicists’ data analyses.”

CERN has been even more successful in its quest to achieve software integrity through the installation of Coverity Static Analysis, an industry leading development testing solution that leverages sophisticated analysis techniques for finding and eliminating hard-to-spot code defects early in the software development lifecycle, as the code is being written, when they are the easiest and least expensive to find and fix.

Within the first week of implementing Coverity Static Analysis, CERN’s ROOT Development team found thousands of possible software defects that could have impacted software integrity and research accuracy, including buffer overflows and memory leaks, with very few false positives.

To improve the integrity of CERN’s source code, the ROOT team spent just six weeks on resolving the errors and continues to use the solution in production daily to prevent further software defects from occurring. The remit of Coverity’s solution has also expanded to include the software underpinning specific LHC experiments, which equates to 50 million lines of code. Coverity Static Analysis is now used by thousands of developers across CERN. Using Coverity’s web interface, even non-professional developers are able to quickly understand and remediate errors in the software, as well as the reports produced from the analysis. Moreover, Coverity has achieved viral adoption across the CERN developer community within a period of 2 months.

“By implementing Coverity Static Analysis, CERN is now able to safeguard the integrity of its LHC experiments,” said Jennifer Johnson, Global VP Marketing at Coverity. “With Coverity’s unique ability to offer quick detection of complex, uncommon and hard-to-detect errors, software developers are further motivated to find and fix errors early in the software development cycle. This helps CERN achieve better governance of its entire software development process, obtain far more accuracy in its research experiments, and ultimately helps the entire organisation in its quest to better understand the universe.”

To learn more about how Coverity helps CERN, watch this video interview with Axel Naumann.


Linked Articles
eeNews Europe