Analysis and enhancements of adaptive random testing


Merkel, Robert G.

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Random testing is a standard software testing method. It is a popular method for reli-ability assessment, but its use for debug testing has been opposed by some authorities. Random testing does not use any information to guide test case selection, and so, it is argued, testing is less likely to be effective than other methods. Based on the observation that failures often cluster in contiguous regions, Adaptive Random Testing (ART) is a more effective random testing method. While retaining random selection of test cases, selection is guided by the idea that tests should be widely spread throughout the input domain. A simple way to implement this concept, FSCS-ART, involves randomly generating a number of candidates, and choosing the candidate most widely spread from any already-executed test. This method has already shown to be up to 50% more effective than random testing. This thesis examines a number of theoretical and practical issues related to ART. Firstly, an theoretical examination of the scope of adaptive methods to improve testing effectiveness is conducted. Our results show that the maximum improvement in failure detection effectiveness possible is only 50% - so ART performs close to this limit on many occasions. Secondly, the statistical validity of the previous empirical results is examined. A mathematical analysis of the sampling distribution of the various failure-detection effectiveness methods shows that the measure preferred in previous studies has a slightly unusual distribution known as the geometric distribution, and that that it and other measures are likely to show high variance, requiring very large sample sizes for accurate comparisons. A potential limitation of current ART methods is the relatively high selection overhead. A number of methods to obtain lower overheads are proposed and evaluated, involving a less-strict randomness or wide-spreading criterion. Two methods use dynamic, as-needed partitioning to divide the input domain, spreading test cases throughout the partitions as required. Another involves using a class of numeric sequences called quasi-random sequences. Finally, a more efficient implementation of the existing FSCS-ART method is proposed using the mathematical structure known as the Voronoi diagram. Finally, the use of ART on programs whose input is non-numeric is examined. While existing techniques can be used to generate random non-numeric candidates, a criterion for 'wide spread' is required to perform ART effectively. It is proposed to use the notion of category-partition as such a criterion.

Publication year


Thesis supervisor

T. Y. Chen

Publication type

Thesis (PhD)


Copyright © 2005 Robert G. Merkel.

Thesis note

Submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Swinburne University of Technology, 2005.