A lot of this patent feels like it has prior art in existing tools such as disassemblers and profilers.

Patent text

Claim 1

  1. A method for detecting a time complexity associated with an executable program stored in a computer memory device, comprising:

    (1) automatically analyzing said stored program with a computer processor to detect the time complexity of said program based on loops in the code;

    (2) automatically analyzing said stored program with said processor to detect the time complexity of said program based on a code flow and a destination of branching instructions in the program;

    automatically determining the minimum time complexity between the time complexity detected in (1) and the time complexity detected in (2) as the time complexity of said program.

3 Answers 3


IDA Pro seems to cover claims 2a, 2b, 4 and 5. The profiler in Visual studio seems to cover claim 14 and Visual Studio in general seems to cover most of claim 17 and 18.

  • Each claim (including its chain of dependency) is taken as a whole. That means there is no such thing as "claim 2a" or "2b".
    – George White
    Mar 6, 2014 at 16:21
  • This patent covers a static analysis of high level code to provide graphical representations of paths that can happen and run time. Profilers, I believe, run the code and see what happens.
    – George White
    Mar 6, 2014 at 18:50
  • 1
    @GeorgeWhite: of course, you are correct. However, henke37 probably means that the prior art reference does not cover all claim elements and as such you need at least a second reference to cover all claim elements.
    – Daniel K.
    Mar 12, 2014 at 20:24

The first claim seems to be pretty much what you would want to do in a real-time system where you want to automatically determine whether a given piece of code will fulfill the real-time requirements you have. This would be known as static profiling to determine the worst case execution time (WCET).

One likely prior art reference could be this publication.

I haven't read anything past the abstract, but the abstract may be broad enough to invalidate the first claim alone.

  • That abstract essentially says - "we have found a better method." The abstract does not tell us the steps to accomplish the method in so the abstract, by it self, can't invalidate anything.
    – George White
    Sep 25, 2018 at 23:26

The patent description was very long and I quickly went through it. So I may have misunderstood. But I got the impression that the aim of the patent is to make a performance analysis by code inspection without running the code. Common profilers report the performance by running the code while common code inspectors focus on possible coding mistakes or excessive complexity that hinders maintenance.

If the interpretation is restricted to the above point it might actually be something new, or at least the prior art is not so obvious, but I doubt it would be something useful, most of the time the performance depends on the runtime data. Developers might write some very complex loops because they know that at runtime that function would process very small lists, an automated tool would not be aware of such considerations.

  • Welcome to Ask Patents - like all SE sites it is not a forum for discussing issues but set up to be a question followed by answers that address the question. Old questions that do not have “accepted” answers are periodically automatically brought the front of the queue. It unfortunately makes very old questions seem new. We do value substantive answers to old questions but I wanted to comment on this to help you improve future answers. Your post isn’t really an answer to the question and doesn’t add substantive information beyond existing answers to an 8-year old question.
    – George White
    May 11, 2022 at 16:49

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