Reducing the cost of grammar-based testing using pattern coverage

C. Hentz, J.J. Vinju, A.M. Moreira

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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In grammar-based testing, context-free grammars may be used to generate relevant test inputs for language processors, or meta programs, such as programming language compilers, refactoring tools, and implementations of software quality metrics. This technique can be used to test these meta programs, but the amount of sentences, and syntax trees thereof, which needs to be generated to obtain reasonable coverage of the input language is exponential. Pattern matching is a programming language feature used often when writing meta programs. Pattern matching helps because it automates the frequently occurring task of detecting shapes in, and extracting information from syntax trees. However, meta programs which contain many patterns are difficult to test using only randomly generated sentences from grammar rules. The reason is that statistically it is uncommon to directly generate sentences which accidentally match the patterns in the code. To solve this problem, in this paper we extract information from the patterns in the code of meta programs to guide the sentence generation process. We introduce a new coverage criterion, called Pattern Coverage, which focuses on providing a test strategy to reduce the amount of test necessary cases, while covering the relevant parts of the meta program. An initial experimental evaluation is presented and the result is compared with traditional grammar-based testing.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTesting Software and Systems, ICTSS 2015
EditorsK. El-Fakih, G. Barlas, N. Yevtushenko
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-25945-1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventICTSS 2015: International Conference on Testing Software and Systems - Sharjah and Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Duration: 23 Nov 201525 Nov 2015

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science


ConferenceICTSS 2015: International Conference on Testing Software and Systems
Country/TerritoryUnited Arab Emirates
CitySharjah and Dubai


  • Software test
  • Meta program
  • Pattern matching
  • Grammar-based testing


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