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"I did more research, and realized I almost would rather be a biologist than a writer, because there was incredible stuff going on!"
- Greg Bear

Vivisector  
  A program that takes another computer program apart, while it's running, to see what it does.  

Vivisector was an object program she'd borrowed from Tony just the other day... a tasty little routine going the rounds among young hackers that disassembled other programs and put them back together again without leaving a trace - even while those programs were running. Carefully, Clair sicked Vivisector on her mother's watchdog. Soon its guts were laid out across her inspection screen.
From Earth, by David Brin.
Published by Bantam in 1990
Additional resources -

Are there tools like this in existence now? It is somewhat similar to a decompiler, which seeks to reverse the process by which human-readable code is translated into machine-executable code.

This sounds to me like something I would like. I'd like to know every program that is running on my computer, and what it is actually doing, in graphically clear terms. I know there are utilities that will tell you what applications are running and how much processor time they use, but I don't think they are quite Vivisector.

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