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Comprehensive analysis of FBD test coverage criteria using mutants


Function block diagram (FBD), a graphical modeling language for programmable logic controllers, has been widely used to implement safety critical system software such as nuclear reactor protection systems. With the growing importance of structural testing for FBD models, structural test coverage criteria for FBD models have been proposed and evaluated using mutation analysis in our previous work. We extend the previous work by comprehensively analyzing the relationships among fault detection effectiveness, test suite size, and coverage level through several research questions. We generate a large number of test suites achieving an FBD test coverage ranging from 0 to 100 %, and we also generate many artificial faults (i.e. mutants) for the FBD models. Our analysis results show that the fault detection effectiveness of the FBD coverage criteria increases with increasing coverage levels, and the coverage criteria are highly effective at detecting faults in all subject models. Furthermore, the test suites generated with the FBD coverage criteria are more effective and efficient than the randomly generated test suites. The FBD coverage criteria are strong at detecting faults in Boolean edges, while relatively weak at detecting wrong constants in FBD models. Empirical knowledge regarding our experiments provide the validity of using the FBD coverage criteria, and therefore, of FBD model-based testing.

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  1. The AND block is negated because of the inverter, represented by a small bubble attached to the output of the AND block.

  2. We used an SMT solver to verify whether or not each test requirement is feasible.

    Table 1 Size information for the subject models
  3. We performed F-test to verify the same variance assumption before performing t-test.

  4. We only show the result for CCC-suites since those for BC-suites and ICC-suites have similar characteristics to the CCC-suites.


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The authors thank the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions to improve the quality of the paper. This research was partially supported by Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (NRF-2013R1A1A2058618) and the IT R&D program of MSIP/KEIT [10044457, Development of Autonomous Intelligent Collaboration Framework for Knowledge Bases and Smart Devices].

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Correspondence to Donghwan Shin.

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Communicated by Dr. Perdita Stevens.

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Shin, D., Jee, E. & Bae, DH. Comprehensive analysis of FBD test coverage criteria using mutants. Softw Syst Model 15, 631–645 (2016).

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  • FBD model-based testing
  • Test coverage criteria
  • Mutation analysis