Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What is Regression Testing?

Regression testing means rerunning test cases from existing test suites to build confidence that software changes have no unintended side-effects. The “ideal” process would be to create an extensive test suite and run it after each and every change. Unfortunately, for many projects this is just impossible because test suites are too large, because changes come in too fast, because humans are in the testing loop, because scarce, highly in-demand simulation laboratories are needed, or because testing must be done on many different hardware and OS platforms.

Researchers have tried to make regression testing more effective and efficient by developing regression test selection (RTS) techniques, but many problem remain, such as:

* Unpredictable performance. RTS techniques sometimes save time and money, but they sometimes select most or all of the original test cases. Thus, developers using RTS techniques can find themselves worse off for having done so.
* Incompatible process assumptions. Testing time is often limited (e.g., must be done overnight). RTS techniques do not consider such constraints and, therefore, can and do select more test cases than can be run.
* Inappropriate evaluation models. RTS techniques try to maximize average regression testing performance rather than optimize aggregate performance over many testing sessions. However, companies that test frequently might accept less effective, but cheaper individual testing sessions if the system would, nonetheless, be well-tested over some short period of time.

These and other issues have not been adequately considered in current research, yet they strongly affect the applicability of proposed regression testing processes. Moreover, we believe that solutions to these problems can be exploited, singly and in combination, to dramatically improve the costs and benefits of the
regression testing process.


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