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Overcoming the Equivalent Mutant Problem: A Systematic Literature Review and a Comparative Experiment of Second Order Mutation

Journal article
Authors L. Madeyski
W. Orzeszyna
Richard Torkar
M. Jozala
Published in Ieee Transactions on Software Engineering
Volume 40
Issue 1
Pages 23-42
ISSN 0098-5589
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Computer Science and Engineering (GU)
Pages 23-42
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1109/tse.2013.44
Keywords Mutation testing, equivalent mutant problem, higher order mutation, second order mutation, GUIDELINES, MILLO RA, 1978, COMPUTER, V11, P34
Subject categories Computer and Information Science, Electrical Engineering, Electronic Engineering, Information Engineering

Abstract

Context. The equivalent mutant problem (EMP) is one of the crucial problems in mutation testing widely studied over decades. Objectives. The objectives are: to present a systematic literature review (SLR) in the field of EMP; to identify, classify and improve the existing, or implement new, methods which try to overcome EMP and evaluate them. Method. We performed SLR based on the search of digital libraries. We implemented four second order mutation (SOM) strategies, in addition to first order mutation (FOM), and compared them from different perspectives. Results. Our SLR identified 17 relevant techniques (in 22 articles) and three categories of techniques: detecting (DEM); suggesting (SEM); and avoiding equivalent mutant generation (AEMG). The experiment indicated that SOM in general and JudyDiffOp strategy in particular provide the best results in the following areas: total number of mutants generated; the association between the type of mutation strategy and whether the generated mutants were equivalent or not; the number of not killed mutants; mutation testing time; time needed for manual classification. Conclusions. The results in the DEM category are still far from perfect. Thus, the SEM and AEMG categories have been developed. The JudyDiffOp algorithm achieved good results in many areas.

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