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An information theoretic notion of software testability

Patel, K; Hierons, RM; Clark, D; (2022) An information theoretic notion of software testability. Information and Software Technology , 143 , Article 106759. 10.1016/j.infsof.2021.106759.

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CONTEXT: In software testing, Failed Error Propagation (FEP) is the situation in which a faulty program state occurs during the execution of the system under test (SUT) but this does not lead to incorrect output. It is known that FEP can adversely affect software testing and this has resulted in associated information theoretic measures. OBJECTIVE: To devise measures that can be used to assess the testability of the SUT. By testability, we mean how likely it is that a faulty program state, that occurs during testing, will lead to incorrect output. Previous work has considered a single program point rather than an entire program. METHOD: New, more fine-grained, measures were devised. Experiments were used to evaluate these and the previously defined measures (Squeeziness and Normalised Squeeziness). The experiments assessed how well these measures correlated with an estimate of the probability of FEP occurring during testing. Mutants were used to estimate this probability. RESULTS: A strong rank correlation was found between several of the measures and the probability of FEP. Importantly, this included the Normalised Squeeziness of the whole SUT, which is simpler to compute, or estimate, than most of the other measures considered. Additional experiments found that the measures were relatively insensitive to the choice of mutants and also test suite. CONCLUSION: There is scope to use information theoretic measures to estimate how prone an SUT is to FEP. As a result, there is potential to use such measures to prioritise testing or estimate how much testing an SUT might require.

Type: Article
Title: An information theoretic notion of software testability
DOI: 10.1016/j.infsof.2021.106759
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.infsof.2021.106759
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Software testability, information theory, failed error propagation
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Computer Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10139778
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