The Marginal Value of Increased Testing: An Empirical Analysis using Four Code Coverage Measures

Swapna S. GokhaleRobert E. Mullen

This paper presents an empirical comparison of the growth characteristics of four code coverage measures, block, decision, c-use and p-use, as testing is increased. Due to the theoretical foundations underlying the lognormal software reliability growth model, we hypothesize that the growth for each coverage measure is lognormal. Further, since for a given program the breadth and the depth of the different coverage measures are similar, we expect that the parameters of the lognormal coverage growth model for each of the four coverage measures to be similar. We confirm these hypotheses using coverage data generated from extensive testing of an application which has 30 KLOC. We then discuss how the lognormal coverage growth function could be used to control the testing process and to guide decisions about when to stop testing, since it can provide an estimate of the marginal testing effort necessary to achieve a given level of improvement in the coverage.

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