Computing Paper Wins Awards at Major Software Engineering Conference

September 28, 2008

A paper by Ph.D. student Raul Santelices, former visiting researcher Pavan Kumar Chittimalli, alumnus Taweesup Apiwattanapong and Professors Alessandro (Alex) Orso and Mary Jean Harrold—all of the School of Computer Science—received a “Best Paper Award” and a “Distinguished Paper Award” at the 23rd IEEE/ACM International Conference on Automated Software Engineering.

Software is constantly modified during its lifecycle. When changes are made to software code, engineers must know how to test those changes properly and to answer questions that come up, such as: Do the changes behave as expected? Are there unexpected side effects? The paper, "Test-suite Augmentation for Evolving Software," provides methods to help software engineers address those questions.

“Our work provides a new algorithm based on dependence analysis and symbolic execution that identifies the different ways in which the effects of changes might propagate during execution,” Santelices said. “Given this information, testers can evaluate the adequacy of the existing test suite for the modified software and augment this test suite with new test cases as necessary.”

Santelices said most research on regression testing (that is, testing a program after it is modified) has focused on optimizing the re-running of the existing test suite to save resources. However, little research has been done on how to identify and test new behaviors introduced by changes.

Tata Consultancy Services, Ltd. and the National Science Foundation provided funds for the research that formed the basis of this award-winning paper.

The IEEE/ACM International Conference on Automated Software Engineering conference is one of the most important in the field. This year only 34 of 280 submitted papers were accepted to the conference this year.