Analyzing execution traces: critical-path analysis and distance analysis

Martijn Hendriks, Jacques Verriet, Twan Basten, Bart Theelen, Marco Brassé, Lou Somers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


System designers make trade-offs between metrics of interest such as execution time, functional quality and cost to create a properly balanced system. Execution traces, which are sequences of timestamped start and end events of system tasks, are a general and powerful means to understand the system behavior that gives rise to these trade-offs. Such traces can be produced by, e.g., executable models or prototype systems. Their interpretation, however, often is non-trivial. We present two automated analysis techniques that work on execution traces to help the system designer with interpretation. First, critical-path analysis can be used to answer the typical “what is the bottleneck” question, and we extend earlier work of [16] with a technique that uses application information to refine the analysis. Second, we define a pseudo-metric on execution traces, which is useful for calibration and validation purposes, and which can be used to visualize the differences between traces. Both techniques are based on a common graph representation of execution traces. We have implemented our techniques in the Trace visualization tool [12], and have applied them in a case study from the digital printing domain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-510
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal on Software Tools for Technology Transfer
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


  • Critical path
  • Execution trace
  • Metric
  • Model-based design
  • Visualization


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