Detecting Trivial Mutant Equivalences via Compiler Optimisations

Marinos Kintis, Mike Papadakis, Yue Jia, Nicos Malevris, Yves Le Traon, Mark Harman
2018 IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering  
Mutation testing realises the idea of fault-based testing, i.e., using artificial defects to guide the testing process. It is used to evaluate the adequacy of test suites and to guide test case generation. It is a potentially powerful form of testing, but it is well-known that its effectiveness is inhibited by the presence of equivalent mutants. We recently studied Trivial Compiler Equivalence (TCE) as a simple, fast and readily applicable technique for identifying equivalent mutants for C
more » ... ams. In the present work, we augment our findings with further results for the Java programming language. TCE can remove a large portion of all mutants because they are determined to be either equivalent or duplicates of other mutants. In particular, TCE equivalent mutants account for 7.4% and 5.7% of all C and Java mutants, while duplicated mutants account for a further 21% of all C mutants and 5.4% Java mutants, on average. With respect to a benchmark ground truth suite (of known equivalent mutants), approximately 30% (for C) and 54% (for Java) are TCE equivalent. It is unsurprising that results differ between languages, since mutation characteristics are language-dependent. In the case of Java, our new results suggest that TCE may be particularly effective, finding almost half of all equivalent mutants.
doi:10.1109/tse.2017.2684805 fatcat:jlhuiljrbzbclmr622vwdcgkjm