Revisiting the Relationship Between Fault Detection,Test Adequacy Criteria, and Test Set Size

Chen, Yiqun T and Gopinath, Rahul and Tadakamalla, Anita and Ernst, Michael D and Holmes, Reid and Fraser, Gordon and Ammann, Paul and Just, Rene
(2020) Revisiting the Relationship Between Fault Detection,Test Adequacy Criteria, and Test Set Size.
In: The 35th IEEE/ACM International Conference on Automated Software Engineering..
Conference: ASE Automated Software Engineering Conference


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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 suite size, and test adequacy criteria. Specifically, this paper addresses the supposed contradiction of prior work and explains why test suite 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 suite 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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