Unifying regression testing with mutation testing



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Software testing is the most commonly used methodology for validating quality of software systems. Conceptually, testing is simple, but in practice, given the huge (practically infinite) space of inputs to test against, it requires solving a number of challenging problems, including evaluating and reusing tests efficiently and effectively as software evolves. While software testing research has seen much progress in recent years, many crucial bugs still evade state-of-the-art approaches and cause significant monetary losses and sometimes are responsible for loss of life. My thesis is that a unified, bi-dimensional, change-driven methodology can form the basis of novel techniques and tools that can make testing significantly more effective and efficient, and allow us to find more bugs at a reduced cost. We propose a novel unification of the following two dimensions of change: (1) real manual changes made by programmers, e.g., as commonly used to support more effective and efficient regression testing techniques; and (2) mechanically introduced changes to code or specifications, e.g., as originally conceived in mutation testing for evaluating quality of test suites. We believe such unification can lay the foundation of a scalable and highly effective methodology for testing and maintaining real software systems. The primary contribution of my thesis is two-fold. One, it introduces new techniques to address central problems in both regression testing (e.g., test prioritization) and mutation testing (e.g., selective mutation testing). Two, it introduces a new methodology that uses the foundations of regression testing to speed up mutation testing, and also uses the foundations of mutation testing to help with the fault localization problem raised in regression testing. The central ideas are embodied in a suite of prototype tools. Rigorous experimental evaluation is used to validate the efficacy of the proposed techniques using a variety of real-world Java programs.