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Detecting Trivial Mutant Equivalences via Compiler Optimisations

Kintis, M; Papadakis, M; Jia, Y; Malevris, N; Le Traon, Y; Harman, M; (2018) Detecting Trivial Mutant Equivalences via Compiler Optimisations. IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering , 44 (4) pp. 308-333. 10.1109/TSE.2017.2684805. Green open access

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Mutation testing realises the idea of fault-based testing, i.e., using artificial defects to guide the testing process. It is used to evaluate the adequacy of test suites and to guide test case generation. It is a potentially powerful form of testing, but it is well-known that its effectiveness is inhibited by the presence of equivalent mutants. We recently studied Trivial Compiler Equivalence (TCE) as a simple, fast and readily applicable technique for identifying equivalent mutants for C programs. In the present work, we augment our findings with further results for the Java programming language. TCE can remove a large portion of all mutants because they are determined to be either equivalent or duplicates of other mutants. In particular, TCE equivalent mutants account for 7.4% and 5.7% of all C and Java mutants, while duplicated mutants account for a further 21% of all C mutants and 5.4% Java mutants, on average. With respect to a benchmark ground truth suite (of known equivalent mutants), approximately 30% (for C) and 54% (for Java) are TCE equivalent. It is unsurprising that results differ between languages, since mutation characteristics are language-dependent. In the case of Java, our new results suggest that TCE may be particularly effective, finding almost half of all equivalent mutants.

Type: Article
Title: Detecting Trivial Mutant Equivalences via Compiler Optimisations
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1109/TSE.2017.2684805
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1109/TSE.2017.2684805
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. For more information, see http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/.
Keywords: Java, Testing, Optimization, Syntactics, Program processors, Electronic mail, Mutation Testing, Equivalent Mutants, Duplicated Mutants, Compiler Optimisation
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/1573723
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