Overheard: Word of the Day

Dec 18 2007   12:14PM GMT

Overheard: The web is one big fuzz test

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse

matt-cutts.jpg I can tell you that the web is a fuzz test. If you write a program to process web pages, there are few better workouts for your program than to pipe a huge number of web pages into your program.

Matt Cutts, The web is a fuzz test: patch your browser and your web server

Matt writes: One of my favorite computer science papers is a 1990 paper titled “An Empirical Study of the Reliability of UNIX Utilities”. The authors discovered that if they piped random junk into UNIX command-line programs, a remarkable number of them crashed. Why? The random input triggered bugs, some of which had probably hidden for years. Up to a third of the programs that they tried crashed.

That paper helped popularize fuzz testing, which tests programs by giving random gibberish as input. Some people call this a monkey test, as in “Pound on the keyboard like a caffeine-crazed monkey for a few minutes and see if the program crashes.”

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