Un-building blocks: a model of reverse engineering and applicable heuristics
Garcia, Jorge F.
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Reverse engineering is the problem-solving activity that ensues when one takes a human-made system, whole or in part, and attempts—through systematic analysis of its physical characteristics and other available evidence—to answer one or more of the following questions: What is this for? What does it do? How does it do it? What is inside it? How was it made? A model developed from a synthesis of the technical literature is used to infer modes of failure in the process of reverse engineering and identify and catalog applicable experience-based techniques known as heuristics. The model is then cast in an executable formal language in order to further test its assumptions, and explore its implications. Hands-on, historic, and virtual case studies are used to validate and refine the model. The modes of failure, heuristics, and the model itself in its original and formal language expressions, introduce a new descriptive terminology of reverse engineering and provide a new framework to interpret real world reverse engineering activity.
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