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Time to clean your test objectives

Michaël Marcozzi
2018
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Description

Testing is the primary approach for detecting software defects. A major challenge faced by testers lies in crafting efficient test suites, able to detect a maximum number of bugs with manageable effort. To do so, they rely on coverage criteria, which define some precise test objectives to be covered. However, many common criteria specify a significant number of objectives that occur to be infeasible or redundant in practice, like covering dead code or semantically equal mutants. Such objectives are well-known to be harmful to the design of test suites, impacting both the efficiency and precision of the tester's effort. This work introduces a sound and scalable technique to prune out a significant part of the infeasible and redundant objectives produced by a panel of white-box criteria. In a nutshell, we reduce this task to proving the validity of logical assertions in the code under test. The technique is implemented in a tool that relies on weakest-precondition calculus and SMT solving for proving the assertions. The tool is built on top of the Frama-C verification platform, which we carefully tune for our specific scalability needs. The experiments reveal that the pruning capabilities of the tool can reduce the number of targeted test objectives in a program by up to 27% and scale to real programs of 200K lines, making it possible to automate a painstaking part of their current testing process.
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