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22.3 Bag of Testing Tricks
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Why isn t it possible to prove that a program is correct by testing it To use testing to prove that a program works, you d have to test every conceivable input value to the program and every conceivable combination of input values. Even for simple programs, such an undertaking would become massively prohibitive. Suppose, for example, that you have a program that takes a name, an address, and a phone number and stores them in a file. This is certainly a simple program, much simpler than any whose correctness you d really be worried about. Suppose further that each of the possible names and addresses is 20 characters long and that there are 26 possible characters to be used in them. This would be the number of possible inputs:
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Name Address Phone Number Total Possibilities 2620 (20 characters, each with 26 possible choices) 2620 (20 characters, each with 26 possible choices) 1010 (10 digits, each with 10 possible choices) = 2620 * 2620 * 1010 1066
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Even with this relatively small amount of input, you have one-with-66-zeros possible test cases. To put this in perspective: If Noah had gotten off the ark and started testing this program at the rate of a trillion test cases per second, he would be far less than 1% of the way done today. Obviously, if you added a
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22. Developer Testing
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Page 8
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more realistic amount of data, the task of exhaustively testing all possibilities would become even more impossible.
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Incomplete Testing
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6 CROSS-REFERENCE
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7 way of telling whether
you ve covered all the code is to use a coverage monitor. 9 For details, see Coverage 0 Monitors in Coverage Monitors in Section 22.5, 1 later in this chapter.
Since exhaustive testing is impossible, practically speaking, the art of testing is that of picking the test cases most likely to find errors. Of the 1066 possible test cases, only a few are likely to disclose errors that the others don t. You need to concentrate on picking a few that tell you different things rather than a set that tells you the same thing over and over. When you re planning tests, eliminate those that don t tell you anything new that is, tests on new data that probably won t produce an error if other, similar data didn t produce an error. Various people have proposed various methods of covering the bases efficiently, and several of these methods are discussed next.
Structured Basis Testing
In spite of the hairy name, structured basis testing is a fairly simple concept. The idea is that you need to test each statement in a program at least once. If the statement is a logical statement, say an if or a while, you need to vary the testing according to how complicated the expression inside the if or while is to make sure that the statement is fully tested. The easiest way to make sure that you ve gotten all the bases covered is to calculate the number of paths through the program and then develop the minimum number of test cases that will exercise every path through the program. You might have heard of code coverage testing or logic coverage testing. They are approaches in which you test all the paths through a program. Since they cover all paths, they re similar to structured basis testing, but they don t include the idea of covering all paths with a minimal set of test cases. If you use code coverage or logic coverage testing, you might create many more test cases than you would need to cover the same logic with structured basis testing. You can compute the minimum number of cases needed for basis testing in the straightforward way outlined in Table 22-1.
Table 22-1. Determining the Number of Test Cases Needed for Structured Basis Testing 1. Start with 1 for the straight path through the routine. 2. Add 1 for each of the following keywords, or their equivalents: if, while, repeat, for, and, and or. 3. Add 1 for each case in a case statement. If the case statement doesn t have a default case, add 1 more.
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