, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 185-210

Selecting a Cost-Effective Test Case Prioritization Technique

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Abstract

Regression testing is an expensive testing process used to validate modified software and detect whether new faults have been introduced into previously tested code. To reduce the cost of regression testing, software testers may prioritize their test cases so that those which are more important, by some measure, are run earlier in the regression testing process. One goal of prioritization is to increase a test suite's rate of fault detection. Previous empirical studies have shown that several prioritization techniques can significantly improve rate of fault detection, but these studies have also shown that the effectiveness of these techniques varies considerably across various attributes of the program, test suites, and modifications being considered. This variation makes it difficult for a practitioner to choose an appropriate prioritization technique for a given testing scenario. To address this problem, we analyze the fault detection rates that result from applying several different prioritization techniques to several programs and modified versions. The results of our analyses provide insights into which types of prioritization techniques are and are not appropriate under specific testing scenarios, and the conditions under which they are or are not appropriate. Our analysis approach can also be used by other researchers or practitioners to determine the prioritization techniques appropriate to other workloads.