A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis of Program Spectra Diagnosability

Alexandre Perez, Rui Abreu, A. Van Deursen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
100 Downloads (Pure)


Current metrics for assessing the adequacy of a test-suite plainly focus on the number of components (be it lines, branches, paths) covered by the suite, but do not explicitly check how the tests actually exercise these components and whether they provide enough information so that spectrum-based fault localization techniques can perform accurate fault isolation. We propose a metric, called DDU, aimed at complementing adequacy measurements by quantifying a test-suite's diagnosability, i.e., the effectiveness of applying spectrum-based fault localization to pinpoint faults in the code in the event of test failures. Our aim is to increase the value generated by creating thorough test-suites, so they are not only regarded as error detection mechanisms but also as effective diagnostic aids that help widely-used fault-localization techniques to accurately pinpoint the location of bugs in the system. We have performed a topology-based simulation of thousands of spectra and have found that DDU can effectively establish an upper bound on the effort to diagnose faults. Furthermore, our empirical experiments using the Defects4J dataset show that optimizing a test suite with respect to DDU yields a 34 percent gain in spectrum-based fault localization report accuracy when compared to the standard branch-coverage metric.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8627980
Pages (from-to)412-431
Number of pages20
JournalIEEE Transactions on Software Engineering
Issue number2
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Mar 2019


  • Testing
  • coverage
  • diagnosability


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