Sam Malek Receives NSF Award to Develop a Framework for Reusing Software Tests

October 2, 2021

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded $1.2 million to a multi-institutional collaboration between Informatics Professor Sam Malek of UCI, Professor Alex Orso of Georgia Tech and Professor Nenad Medvidovic of UCS. Their research proposal, “A General Framework for Automated Test Transfer,” aims to make it possible to reuse software tests.

“Reuse plays a big part in software development,” explains Malek, who is director of UCI’s Institute for Software Research (ISR). Developers write reusable code to improve productivity, and while it is common for source code in one project to be reused in another project, software tests are rarely reused across projects. “Writing software tests takes a lot of time and effort. Our project is inspired by the fact that there is a lot of overlap among software applications.”

The team is working to develop a framework to support automated reuse of user interface tests across systems that share at least part of their functionality. “We are proposing to develop a variety of automated techniques to make it possible to transform tests to make them reusable,” says Malek. The researchers will then publicly share the techniques, tools and datasets. “We want to make the idea of test transfer practical for use by practitioners.”

As outlined in the proposal, the project will advance automated testing on multiple fronts: 

  • enabling the reuse of test inputs that are otherwise difficult to produce automatically, 
  • producing tests that target meaningful use cases, and
  • producing tests with sophisticated oracles — that is, checks of test outcomes.

“If successful,” says Malek, “we will be able to significantly reduce the time and effort it takes to validate the behavior of software applications.”

Shani Murray