Revisiting the relationship between fault detection, test adequacy criteria, and test set size.
The research community has long recognized a complex interrelationship between test set size, test adequacy criteria, and test effectiveness in terms of fault detection. However, there is substantial confusion about the role and importance of controlling for test set size when assessing and comparing test adequacy criteria. This paper makes the following contributions: (1) A review of contradictory analyses of the relationship between fault detection, test set size, and test adequacy criteria. Specifically, this paper addresses the supposed contradiction of prior work and explains why test set size is neither a confounding variable, as previously suggested, nor an independent variable that should be experimentally manipulated. (2) An explication and discussion of the experimental design and sampling strategies of prior work, together with a discussion of conceptual and statistical problems, and specific guidelines for future work. (3) A methodology for comparing test-adequacy criteria on an equal basis, which accounts for test set size by treating it as a covariate. (4) An empirical evaluation that compares the effectiveness of coverage-based and mutation-based testing to one another and random testing. Additionally, this paper proposes probabilistic coupling, a methodology for approximating the representativeness of a set of test goals for a given set of real faults.
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Yiqun Chen University of Washington, Rahul Gopinath CISPA Helmholtz Center for Information Security, Anita Tadakamalla George Mason University, USA, Michael D. Ernst University of Washington, USA, Reid Holmes University of British Columbia, Gordon Fraser University of Passau, Paul Ammann George Mason University, USA, René Just University of Washington, USA
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