Seminars & Colloquia

Tao Xie

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

"Transferring an Automated Test Generation Tool to Practice: From Pex to Fakes, Code Digger, and Pex4Fun"

Monday April 07, 2014 03:00 PM
Location: 3211, EBII NCSU Centennial Campus
(Visitor parking instructions)



Producing industry impacts has been an important, yet challenging task for the research community. Although there are a few cases on reporting 'what to do' (reflecting good things to keep doing and replicate elsewhere), there are still strong needs of reporting successful technology-transfer cases and stories behind them for the research community to learn from and replicate. This talk presents the successful technology-transfer case of Pex ( and its relatives (tools derived from or associated with Pex) from Microsoft Research and lessons learned from more than eight years of research efforts by the Pex team of Microsoft Research in collaboration with academia. Moles, a tool associated with Pex, was shipped as Fakes with Visual Studio since August 2012, benefiting a huge user base of Visual Studio around the world. The number of download counts of Pex and its lightweight version called Code Digger has reached tens of thousands within one or two years. Pex4Fun (, derived from Pex), an educational gaming website released since June 2010, has achieved high educational impact, reflected by the number of clicks of the 'Ask Pex!' button (indicating the attempts made by users to solve games at Pex4Fun) as over 1.4 million till now. Very recently, Code Hunt ( was released by Microsoft Research for adding more fun and gaming effects as an extension to Pex4Fun.

Short Bio:

Tao Xie is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since July 2013. Before then, he was an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at North Carolina State University. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Washington in 2005. He has worked as a visiting researcher at Microsoft Research Redmond and Microsoft Research Asia. His research interests are in software engineering, focusing on software testing, program analysis and software analytics. He has served as the ACM SIGSOFT History Liaison in the SIGSOFT Executive Committee as well as a member of the ACM History Committee (ACM History SGB Liaison). He received an NSF CAREER Award in 2009. He received a 2011 Microsoft Research Software Engineering Innovation Foundation (SEIF) Award, 2008, 2009, and 2010 IBM Faculty Awards, and a 2008 IBM Jazz Innovation Award. His homepage is at

Host: Emerson Murphy-Hill, Computer Science, NCSU

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