Characteristic studies of loop problems for structural test generation via symbolic execution

Xusheng Xiao, Sihan Li, Tao Xie, Nikolai Tillmann

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

Dynamic Symbolic Execution (DSE) is a state-of-the-art test-generation approach that systematically explores program paths to generate high-covering tests. In DSE, the presence of loops (especially unbound loops) can cause an enormous or even infinite number of paths to be explored. There exist techniques (such as bounded iteration, heuristics, and summarization) that assist DSE in addressing loop problems. However, there exists no literature-survey or empirical work that shows the pervasiveness of loop problems or identifies challenges faced by these techniques on real-world open-source applications. To fill this gap, we provide characteristic studies to guide future research on addressing loop problems for DSE. Our proposed study methodology starts with conducting a literature-survey study to investigate how technical problems such as loop problems compromise automated software-engineering tasks such as test generation, and which existing techniques are proposed to deal with such technical problems. Then the study methodology continues with conducting an empirical study of applying the existing techniques on real-world software applications sampled based on the literature-survey results and major open-source project hostings. This empirical study investigates the pervasiveness of the technical problems and how well existing techniques can address such problems among real-world software applications. Based on such study methodology, our two-phase characteristic studies identify that bounded iteration and heuristics are effective in addressing loop problems when used properly. Our studies further identify challenges faced by these techniques and provide guidelines for effectively addressing these challenges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2013 28th IEEE/ACM International Conference on Automated Software Engineering, ASE 2013 - Proceedings
Pages246-256
Number of pages11
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013
Event2013 28th IEEE/ACM International Conference on Automated Software Engineering, ASE 2013 - Palo Alto, CA, United States
Duration: Nov 11 2013Nov 15 2013

Publication series

Name2013 28th IEEE/ACM International Conference on Automated Software Engineering, ASE 2013 - Proceedings

Other

Other2013 28th IEEE/ACM International Conference on Automated Software Engineering, ASE 2013
CountryUnited States
CityPalo Alto, CA
Period11/11/1311/15/13

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software

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  • Cite this

    Xiao, X., Li, S., Xie, T., & Tillmann, N. (2013). Characteristic studies of loop problems for structural test generation via symbolic execution. In 2013 28th IEEE/ACM International Conference on Automated Software Engineering, ASE 2013 - Proceedings (pp. 246-256). [6693084] (2013 28th IEEE/ACM International Conference on Automated Software Engineering, ASE 2013 - Proceedings). https://doi.org/10.1109/ASE.2013.6693084