Using JML Runtime Assertion Checking to Automate Metamorphic Testing in Applications without Test Oracles

Christian Murphy; Kuang Shen; Gail E. Kaiser

Using JML Runtime Assertion Checking to Automate Metamorphic Testing in Applications without Test Oracles
Murphy, Christian
Shen, Kuang
Kaiser, Gail E.
Technical reports
Computer Science
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Columbia University Computer Science Technical Reports
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Department of Computer Science, Columbia University
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New York
It is challenging to test applications and functions for which the correct output for arbitrary input cannot be known in advance, e.g. some computational science or machine learning applications. In the absence of a test oracle, one approach to testing these applications is to use metamorphic testing: existing test case input is modified to produce new test cases in such a manner that, when given the new input, the application should produce an output that can be easily be computed based on the original output. That is, if input x produces output f(x), then we create input x' such that we can predict f(x') based on f(x); if the application or function does not produce the expected output, then a defect must exist, and either f(x) or f(x') (or both) is wrong. By using metamorphic testing, we are able to provide built-in 'pseudo-oracles' for these so-called 'nontestable programs' that have no test oracles. In this paper, we describe an approach in which a function's metamorphic properties are specified using an extension to the Java Modeling Language (JML), a behavioral interface specification language that is used to support the 'design by contract' paradigm in Java applications. Our implementation, called Corduroy, pre-processes these specifications and generates test code that can be executed using JML runtime assertion checking, for ensuring that the specifications hold during program execution. In addition to presenting our approach and implementation, we also describe our findings from case studies in which we apply our technique to applications without test oracles.
Computer science
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