New testing techniques for safer software development

Software product line engineering has become common practice for developing families of software systems. It has been used by many industrial companies such as Boeing, Bosch, General Motors, Philips and Siemens. Since the safety aspect of these systems is of great importance, they have to be efficiently and rigorously tested. Mahsa Varshosaz at Halmstad University has developed a testing technique tailored for product lines and has recently published a thesis on her conclusions.

Cars in an assembly line in a factory.

In a product line, a set of systems are developed based on a common platform. For example when developing a family of cars. Photo: ISTOCK

“I believe as the involvement of software systems in our daily life is increasing rapidly, having safe and high-quality software systems is vastly demanded and beneficial for society.”

Mahsa Varshosaz

Model-Based Testing (MBT) is a technique that is commonly used for testing software systems. In MBT, test cases are generated from a model of the system and executed against a real implementation of the system.

“Due to the potentially large number of products in a product line, using traditional MBT techniques can be very costly and in many cases infeasible. Hence, developing MBT techniques tailored for product lines has been studied”, says PhD student Mahsa Varshosaz and continues:

“In my thesis, we consider adopting one of the well-known MBT techniques, namely the so-called Harmonized State Identification (HSI) method for testing product lines efficiently. For example, we enable reuse in the test case generation phase of the HSI method, which can result in an up to 50 percent decrease in the test case generation time. Furthermore, as modelling is an important step in MBT, we provide a comparison among the existing formalisms used for modelling product lines based on some of their properties such as expressiveness and succinctness.”

Woman in yellow sweater.

Mahsa Varshosaz presented her doctoral thesis on February 27 at Halmstad University. She has recently started working as a postdoctoral researcher at IT University of Copenhagen, where the focus of her research is on automatic programme repair. Photo: Ida Fridvall

Wants to contribute to safe products

Mahsa Varshosaz’s research results can be used as a reference for other researchers working on modelling techniques for product lines and the practitioners who are using such models.

“As product lines are used by mainstream industries, such as avionics and automotive domain, providing more efficient testing techniques, in our case MBT techniques, can help with conducting more rigorous testing of systems and hence having safer systems. This could lead to for example having a car with a software system that has been tested in a large variety of scenarios”, says Mahsa Varshosaz.

Mahsa Varshosaz is planning to continue her research related to quality assurance of software systems:

“I believe as the involvement of software systems in our daily life is increasing rapidly, having safe and high-quality software systems is vastly demanded and beneficial for society.”

She has recently started working as a postdoctoral researcher at IT University of Copenhagen, where the focus of her research is on automatic programme repair.

Text: Louise Wandel

More information

Mahsa Varshosaz, PhD student at the School of Information Technology at Halmstad University, presented her doctoral thesis on February 27.

Doctoral thesis:
Modeling and Model-Based Testing of Software Product Linesexternal link

Article from 2017 about Mahsa Varshosaz’s research:
Increasing efficiency in testing software product linesexternal link

The article in Swedish: ”Nya testtekniker för säkrare utveckling av programvara”external link

PUBLISHED

2019-04-05

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