Searching for Quality: Genetic Algorithms and Metamorphic Testing for Software Engineering ML

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More machine learning (ML) models are introduced to the field of Software Engineering (SE) and reached a stage of maturity to be considered for real-world use;But the real world is complex, and testing these models lacks often in explainability, feasability and computational capacities. Existing research introduced metamorphic testing to gain additional insights and certainty about the model, by applying semantic-preserving changes to input-data while observing model-output. As this is currently done at random places, it can lead to potentially unrealistic datapoints and high computational costs. With this work, we introduce genetic search as an additional aid for metamorphic testing in SE ML. Utilizing the delta in output as a fitness function, the evolutionary intelligence optimizes the transformations to produce higher deltas with less changes. We perform a case study minimizing F1-Score and MRR for Code2Vec on a representative sample from java-small with both genetic and random search. Our results show that within the same amount of time, genetic search was able to achieve a decrease of 10% in F1 while random search produced 3% drop.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jul 2023
EventThe Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference - Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: 15 Jul 202319 Jul 2023


ConferenceThe Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference
Abbreviated titleGECCO
Internet address


  • Search-based software engineering
  • Evolutionary algorithms
  • Metamorphic testing
  • Machine Learning


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