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ICSE 2021
Mon 17 May - Sat 5 June 2021

Various proxy metrics for test quality have been defined in order to guide developers when writing tests. Code coverage is particularly well established in practice, even though the question of how coverage relates to test quality is a matter of ongoing debate. Mutation testing offers a promising alternative: Artificial defects can identify holes in a test suite, and thus provide concrete suggestions for additional tests. Despite the obvious advantages of mutation testing, it is not yet well established in practice. Until recently, mutation testing tools and techniques simply did not scale to complex systems. Although they now do scale, a remaining obstacle is lack of evidence that writing tests for mutants actually improves test quality. This paper fills this gap. Analyzing a large dataset of almost 15 million mutants, it investigates how these mutants influenced developers over time, and how these mutants relate to real faults. Our analyses suggest that developers using mutation testing write more tests, and actively improve their test suites with high quality tests such that fewer mutants remain. By analyzing a dataset of historic fixes of real high-priority faults, our analyses further provide evidence that mutants are indeed coupled with real faults. In other words, had mutation testing been used for the changes introducing the faults, it would have reported a live mutant that could have prevented the bug.

Conference Day
Thu 27 May

Displayed time zone: Amsterdam, Berlin, Bern, Rome, Stockholm, Vienna change

11:50 - 13:05
3.2.4. Mutation Testing: General IssuesNIER - New Ideas and Emerging Results / Journal-First Papers / Technical Track at Blended Sessions Room 4 +12h
Chair(s): Claudia AyalaUniversitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Spain, Sigrid EldhEricsson, Sweden
11:50
20m
Paper
Sentinel: A Hyper-Heuristic for the Generation of Mutant Reduction StrategiesJournal-First
Journal-First Papers
Giovani GuizzoUniversity College London, Federica SarroUniversity College London, Jens KrinkeUniversity College London, Silvia Regina VergilioFederal University of Paraná
Link to publication DOI Pre-print
12:10
15m
Short-paper
What Are We Really Testing in Mutation Testing for Machine Learning? A Critical ReflectionNIER
NIER - New Ideas and Emerging Results
Annibale PanichellaDelft University of Technology, Cynthia C. S. LiemDelft University of Technology
Pre-print
12:25
20m
Paper
MuDelta: Delta-Oriented Mutation Testing at Commit TimeTechnical Track
Technical Track
Wei MaSnT, University of Luxembourg, Thierry Titcheu ChekamSES S.A. & University of Luxembourg (SnT), Mike PapadakisUniversity of Luxembourg, Luxembourg, Mark HarmanUniversity College London
Pre-print
12:45
20m
Paper
Does mutation testing improve testing practices?Technical Track
Technical Track
Goran PetrovićGoogle Inc, Marko IvankovićGoogle Inc, Gordon FraserUniversity of Passau, René JustUniversity of Washington
Pre-print
23:50 - 01:05
23:50
20m
Paper
Sentinel: A Hyper-Heuristic for the Generation of Mutant Reduction StrategiesJournal-First
Journal-First Papers
Giovani GuizzoUniversity College London, Federica SarroUniversity College London, Jens KrinkeUniversity College London, Silvia Regina VergilioFederal University of Paraná
Link to publication DOI Pre-print
00:10
15m
Short-paper
What Are We Really Testing in Mutation Testing for Machine Learning? A Critical ReflectionNIER
NIER - New Ideas and Emerging Results
Annibale PanichellaDelft University of Technology, Cynthia C. S. LiemDelft University of Technology
Pre-print
00:25
20m
Paper
MuDelta: Delta-Oriented Mutation Testing at Commit TimeTechnical Track
Technical Track
Wei MaSnT, University of Luxembourg, Thierry Titcheu ChekamSES S.A. & University of Luxembourg (SnT), Mike PapadakisUniversity of Luxembourg, Luxembourg, Mark HarmanUniversity College London
Pre-print
00:45
20m
Paper
Does mutation testing improve testing practices?Technical Track
Technical Track
Goran PetrovićGoogle Inc, Marko IvankovićGoogle Inc, Gordon FraserUniversity of Passau, René JustUniversity of Washington
Pre-print