Software Quality Journal

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 771–799 | Cite as

TORC: test plan optimization by requirements clustering

  • Baris Güldali
  • Holger Funke
  • Stefan Sauer
  • Gregor Engels


Acceptance testing is a time-consuming task for complex software systems that have to fulfill a large number of requirements. To reduce this effort, we have developed a widely automated method for deriving test plans from requirements that are expressed in natural language. It consists of three stages: annotation, clustering, and test plan specification. The general idea is to exploit redundancies and implicit relationships in requirements specifications. Multi-viewpoint techniques based on RM-ODP (Reference Model for Open Distributed Processing) are employed for specifying the requirements. We then use linguistic analysis techniques, requirements clustering algorithms, and pattern-based requirements collection to reduce the total effort of testing against the requirements specification. In particular, we use linguistic analysis for extracting and annotating the actor, process and object of a requirements statement. During clustering, a similarity function is computed as a measure for the overlap of requirements. In the test plan specification stage, our approach provides capabilities for semi-automatically deriving test plans and acceptance criteria from the clustered informal textual requirements. Two patterns are applied to compute a suitable order of test activities. The generated test plans consist of a sequence of test steps and asserts that are executed or checked in the given order. We also present the supporting prototype tool TORC, which is available open source. For the evaluation of the approach, we have conducted a case study in the field of acceptance testing of a national electronic identification system. In summary, we report on lessons learned how linguistic analysis and clustering techniques can help testers in understanding the relations between requirements and for improving test planning.


Linguistic analysis Requirements clustering Acceptance testing Test planning Acceptance criteria 



We thank Dr. Michael Jahnich for contributing to the former publications and Peter Winkelhane for contributing to the tool support TORC.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Baris Güldali
    • 1
  • Holger Funke
    • 2
  • Stefan Sauer
    • 1
  • Gregor Engels
    • 1
  1. 1.s-lab—Software Quality Lab, University of PaderbornPaderbornGermany
  2. 2.HJP Consulting GmbHBorchenGermany

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