CSCI-1200 Lab 4 — Testing and Debugging solved

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Testing and debugging are important steps in programming. Loosely, you can think of testing as verifying
that your program works and debugging as finding and fixing errors once you’ve discovered it does not.
Writing test code is an important (and sometimes tedious) step. Many software libraries have “regression
tests” that run automatically to verify that code is behaving the way it should.
Here are four strategies for testing and debugging:
1. When you write a class, write a separate “driver” main function that calls each member function,
providing input that produces a known, correct result. Output of the actual result or, better yet,
automatic comparison between actual and correct result allows for verifying the correctness of a class
and its member functions.
2. Carefully reading the code. In doing so, you must strive to read what the code actually says and does
rather than what you think and hope it will do. Although developing this skill isn’t necessarily easy, it
is important.
3. Using the debugger to (a) step through your program, (b) check the contents of various variables, and
(c) locate floating point exceptions and segmentation violations that cause your program to crash.
4. Judicious use of std::cout statements to see what the program is actually doing. This is useful for
printing the contents of a large data structure or class, especially when it is hard to visualize large
objects using the debugger alone.
Points and Rectangles
The programming context for this lab is the problem of determining what 2D points are in what 2D rectangles.
For rectangles, we will assume they are aligned with the coordinate axes, as shown in the figure below. This
makes it easy to represent and to test if a point is inside. Our code will store points in rectangles and
determine which points are in which rectangles. This is a toy example of problems that must be addressed
in graphics and robotics.
(4,3)
(17,9)
(9,3.5)
(8,10)
x
y
Figure 1: Example of a rectangle aligned with the coordinate axes — the only type of rectangle considered
here. The rectangle is specified by its upper right corner point, (17, 9), and its lower left corner point, (4, 3).
The point (9, 3.5) is inside the rectangle, whereas the point (8, 10) is outside.
Please download the following 3 files needed for this lab:
http://www.cs.rpi.edu/academics/courses/spring14/ds/labs/04_debugging/Point2D.h
http://www.cs.rpi.edu/academics/courses/spring14/ds/labs/04_debugging/Rectangle.h
http://www.cs.rpi.edu/academics/courses/spring14/ds/labs/04_debugging/Rectangle.cpp
Checkpoint 1
Start by creating a project and adding the files Point2D.h, Rectangle.h, and Rectangle.cpp. Examine these files briefly. Point2D.h has a simple, self-contained class for representing point coordinates in
two-dimensions. No associated .cpp file is needed because all member functions are defined in the class
declaration. Rectangle.h and Rectangle.cpp contain the start to the Rectangle class. They also contain a
bug. Please read the code now to see if you can find it. Do not worry if you can not, but do not fix it in
the code if you do!
Your job in this checkpoint is to complete the implementation of the Rectangle.cpp class. Look through
Rectangle.h and Rectangle.cpp to determine what functions need to be added. Then, compile these files and
remove any compilation errors (but do not fix runtime logic bugs in the provided code).
Checkpoint 2
Create a new file (within Visual Studio put this within the current project) and call it test rectangle.cpp.
Create a main function within this file. In the main function, write code to test each of the member functions.
For example, write code to create several rectangles, and print their contents right after they are created.
Write code that should produce both true and false in the function is point within. (In fact, if there
is non-trivial logic in a function, the test code should call the function several (or even many) times with
varying inputs to test all the possible conditions.) Write code to add points (or not) to a rectangle. Write
code to find what points are contained within the bounds of both rectangles.
To complete this checkpoint, show a TA your test cases and the error(s) that those test cases reveal.
After doing this you should be able to spot that there is an error in the provided code (as well as, perhaps,
errors in your own code). Even if you know where the bug or bugs occur, please do not fix them yet.
Checkpoint 3
Now, we need to practice using the debugger to find and fix errors. Visual Studio has an associated visual
debugger. If you compile with g++ on cygwin, you can use the separate command-line debugger gdb. Other
debuggers are available, many of them built on top of gdb.
The following detailed list contains instructions for using both the Visual Studio debugger and using cygwin/g++/gdb. After today’s lab, you should have learned the basics of debugging within your preferred
development environment. Keep practicing with the debugger on your future homeworks, and be prepared
to demonstrate debugger skills when you ask for help in office hours.
Many introductory gdb debugging tutorials can be found on-line; just type gdb tutorial into Google. Here
are a couple:
http://www.unknownroad.com/rtfm/gdbtut/gdbtoc.html
http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~gilpin/tutorial/
1. Run your program that has tests for the basic member functions. Even though the program will compile
and run, it will not give the correct output. You may be suspicious about a place in your code where
the error occurs. It is time to start the debugger.
2. Getting started:
• Getting started with the Visual Studio debugger: First, make sure you are in debug mode
(go to Build → Configuration Manager, where “Active solution configuration” should be “Debug”),
so that you can follow the instructions below. Begin by Setting a breakpoint. In the source code,
go to the file where the error might have originated. Choose a line to start on, right click anywhere
on that line of code, and go to Breakpoint → Insert Breakpoint (or hit F9).
Now, look at the main menu and click Debug → Start Debugging (or hit F5). This will start
your program under control of the debugger. A console display will immediately pop up. Your
program will execute until reaching the breakpoint you’ve set.
At this point, several windows will appear including the source code window. You should still be
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able to see the console, but this may be hidden. It is important to look back and forth between
the console and the Visual Studio IDE with your code and the debugger.
• Getting started with g++/gdb: If you are using gdb or any other debugger that works with
code compiled by g++, you will need to compile your code differently. In particular, you will need
to compile using the -g option, as in
g++ -g Rectangle.cpp rectangle_test.cpp -o rect_test
This creates code with debugging information stored about the variables and functions in the
program. In order to start gdb type
gdb rect_test
This puts you into the command-line debugger. Type help in order to see the list of commands.
There are several for setting breakpoints. You can set a breakpoint by specifying a function name
or a line number within a file. For example
break main
sets a breakpoint at the start of the main function. You can also set a breakpoint at the start of
a member function, as in
break Rectangle::add_point
Finally, to set a breakpoint at a specific line number in a file, you may type:
break foo.cpp:65
Set a breakpoint at some point in your code just before (in order of execution!) you think the
first error might occur. Finally, in order to actually start running the program under control of
the debugger, you will need to type run at the gdb command line.
3. Stepping through the program: You can now step through your program one line at a time. Use
F10 to step to the next line of code in the current function. This executes this line before stopping
and redisplaying (it happens very quickly, though). This works even if the line involves a function call.
If you want to see what happens inside the function call, pressing F11 will put you into the called
function’s code. Try not to do this at calls to standard library functions. It can get messy. If you do,
Shift-F11 will get you out. Hit F10 several times and watch the console display. The output lines of
code you wrote will appear so that you can see what’s happening there.
In gdb you can step through the code using the commands next (move to the next line of code), step
(enter the function), and finish (leave the function). The command continue allows you to move to
the next breakpoint.
4. Content of variables: The default set of debugging windows includes the “Autos”, “Locals”, and
one or more “Watch” tabs in one panel (usually bottom left corner). If you do not see a window
that we discuss here, you can click Debug → Windows and select the window you want to see. Autos
display variables used in the previous statement and the current statement. This is useful when you
are at a particular line in a program and only care about the subset of all variables when investigating
a problem. Locals will list all local variables in the current scope. In the Watch windows, you can
evaluate and display any valid expression that is recognized by the debugger (for example, the sum of
two variables).
In gdb, you can use print to see the values of variables and expressions. Use display to specify the
values and variables to print every time your program is stopped.
5. Program flow: You will find another set of debugging windows in the panel on the lower right. These
are “Call Stack”, “Breakpoints”, and “Output”. The Call Stack displays the current execution path
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(in terms of function calls). Double click on an entry in the call stack and the code for that function
will be displayed. Navigate back to the for Rectangle (look for the position of the yellow arrow).
Breakpoints lists all breakpoints in your program.
In gdb, you can use the command backtrace to show the contents of the call stack. This is particularly
important if your program crashes. Unfortunately, the crash often occurs inside C++ library code.
Therefore, when you look at the call stack the first few functions listed may not be your code. Find the
function on the stack that is the nearest to the top of the stack that is your code. By typing frame N,
where N is the index of the function on the stack, you can examine your code and variables and you can
see the line number in your code that caused the crash. Type info locals and info args to examine
the data in the function. Type list to see the source code.
6. Examining Variables Viewing either the “Locals” or the “Watch” tab on the lower left, step through
the program and see how the data changes. You may need to expand some of the variables (e.g., “this”)
to see the data. The most recent changes will be highlighted in red. You can also manually edit the
data, by simply clicking and typing in the new value.
In gdb many of these options are handled through the print and display commands.
7. Now, use F10 to step through the execution one line at a line. Look at the source code, the console,
and the watch window. You should see the error pretty soon. Use the Watch window to find the bug
in the program. Hint: You can even display one coordinate of your rectangle. When you have found
it, show a TA how you found it using the debugger. Have your Watch window visible. Be ready to
answer questions about the purpose of the other debugging windows.
In gdb, you can use the command display to see the contents of a particular variable or expression
when the program is stopped. Therefore you can complete this part of the exercise easily using gdb.
8. Breakpoint on Variable Change: The last powerful debugger feature you will find out about today
is variable monitoring. Create an instance of a Point2D object called pt in your main function and
change its coordinates using the set member function of Point2D. You will now monitor the change
of this point using the debugger.
Click on a line in the main program that comes after the definition of pt, and then go to the top level
menu, click on Debug, go to → New Breakpoint, and choose New Data Breakpoint. In the Address
field, type &pt.m_x (remember pt is the name of the Point2D object), and ignore the other fields. In
this case, the & tells the debugger the address of the member variable pt.m x and the debugger will
now stop whenever the value at that location is changed. It was very important to click on a line in
the function where pt is defined; otherwise the debugger will tell you the variable is undefined!
Finally, click Ok and then Debug → Continue. The debugger will now run until the value of pt.m x is
changed. Note that cursor now is position on the line of code after the line that changed the value.
Show your TA that your program successfully stopped when the variable got changed. Your TA may
also ask you questions about the other steps in debugging. This will complete this checkpoint and
the lab.
In gdb, you can use the command watch to halt the program when a variable or expression changes.
Therefore, you can complete this part of the lab using gdb. Note that in gdb you do not need to pass
a reference for a watch point, so you should just type watch pt.m_x. In gdb you may also want to try
the rwatch command which allows you to break on a read of the value (not just a change).
Please note that the 3rd checkpoint has only given you a brief introduction to debugging. You will learn
much more through extensive practice. In fact, when you go to see one of us — the TAs or instructor —
to ask for help in debugging your assignments, we will constantly be asking you to show us how you have
attempted to find the problem on your own. This will include combinations of the four steps listed at the
start of the lab.
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