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Using Global Constraints to Automate Regression Testing

Arnaud Gotlieb, Dusica Marijan


Nowadays, any communicating or autonomous systems rely on high-quality software-based components. To ensure a sufficient level of quality, these components must be thoroughly verified before being released and being deployed in operational settings. Regression testing is a crucial verification process that executes any new release of a software-based component against previous versions of the component, with existing test cases. However, the selection of test cases in regression testing is challenging as the time available for testing is limited and some selection criteria must be respected. This problem, coined as Test Suite Reduction (TSR), is usually addressed by validation engineers through manual analysis or by using approximation techniques. Even if the underlying optimization problem is untractable in theory, solving it in practice is crucial when there are pressing needs to release high-quality components while at the same time reducing the time-to-market of new software releases. In this paper, we address the TSR problem with sound Artificial intelligence techniques such as Constraint Programming (CP) and global constraints. By associating each test case a cost-value aggregating distinct criteria, such as execution time, priority or importance due to the error-proneness of each test case, we propose several constraint optimization models to find a subset of test cases covering all the test requirements and optimizing the overall cost of selected test cases. Our models are based on a combination of NVALUE, GLOBALCARDINALITY, and SCALAR_PRODUCT, three well-known global constraints that can faithfully encode the coverage relation between test cases and test requirements. Our contribution includes the reuse of existing preprocessing rules to simplify the problem before solving it and the design of structure-aware heuristics, which take into account the notion of costs, associated with test cases. The work presented in this paper has been motivated by an industrial application in the communication domain. Our overall goal is to develop a constraint-based approach of test suite reduction that can be deployed to test a complete product line of conferencing systems in continuous delivery mode. By implementing this approach in a software prototype tool and experimentally evaluated it on both randomly generated instances and industrial instances, we hope to foster a quick adoption of the technology.

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