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Reliability Issues for DoD Systems: Report of a Workshop
puts to software systems for testing purposes. The first selects a very small set of inputs with the property that all pairwise (more generally k-wise) choices for fields (which comprise the inputs) are represented in the test set. It has been demonstrated empirically that a large majority of the errors can be discovered in such a test set. The second approach uses a graphical model of software usage, along with a Markov chain representation of the probability of selection of inputs, to choose test inputs so that the high-probability inputs are selected for the testing set. The session’s goal was to demonstrate that a number of recently developed statistical methods in software engineering are proving useful in industrial applications.
The Dalal Paper
The number of potential inputs to a software system is often astronomically high. In testing a software system, therefore, there is much to be gained by carefully selecting inputs for testing. Consider the interoperability problem in which a number of component systems must interact smoothly, and each of the components has a separate schedule for release of updated versions. To test the combined system, one must consider the (potentially) large number of possible configurations, with each configuration representing the joint use of specific releases. Given the time required to put together a specific configuration, the value of techniques that can reduce the number of tests needed to examine the reliability of all k-wise (for some integer k) combinations is clear. More generally, for any software system, input fields play the same role as system components in the interoperability problem, except that the combinatorial complexity is typically much greater. An empirically supported assumption is that the large majority of software faults are typically due to the interaction of a small number of components or fields, often just two or three. Thus one approach to software testing in this situation is to test all two-way (and possibly three-way) combinations of configurations or fields. That is, for two-way combinations, each version of the first software component is used with each version of the second software component, and so on.
Siddhartha Dalal discussed new test designs that include inputs, for a very modest number of test runs, covering all possible two-way (or generally k-way) combinations of fields. For even moderate-sized problems, these designs include dramatically fewer test cases than standard designs having the given coverage property. Consider, for example, a user interface with 13 entry fields and 3 possible values per field. In this case, the number of