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Can Pairwise Testing Perform Comparably to Manually Handcrafted Testing Carried Out by Industrial Engineers?



Publication Type:

Conference/Workshop Paper


International Workshop on Combinatorial Testing and its Applications


Testing is an important activity in engineering of industrial software. For such software, testing is usually performed manually by handcrafting tests based on specific design techniques and domain-specific experience. To support developers in testing, different approaches for producing good test cases have been proposed. In the last couple of years combinatorial testing has been explored with the goal of automatically combining the input values of the software based on a certain strategy. Pairwise testing is a combinatorial technique used to generate tests by varying the values of each pair of input parameters to a system until all possible combinations of those parameters are created. There is some evidence suggesting that these kinds of techniques are efficient and relatively good at detecting software faults. Unfortunately, there is little experimental evidence on the comparison of these combinatorial testing techniques with, what is perceived as, rigorous manually handcrafted testing. In this study we compare pairwise tests with tests created manually by engineers for 45 industrial programs. The tests were evaluated in terms of fault detection, code coverage and number of tests. The results of this study show that pairwise testing, while useful for achieving high code coverage and fault detection for the majority of the programs, is not quite as effective in terms of fault detection as manual testing. The results also suggest that pairwise testing is just as good as manual testing at fault detection for 64% of the programs.


author = {Peter Charbachi and Linus Eklund and Eduard Paul Enoiu},
title = {Can Pairwise Testing Perform Comparably to Manually Handcrafted Testing Carried Out by Industrial Engineers?},
month = {July},
year = {2017},
booktitle = {International Workshop on Combinatorial Testing and its Applications},
url = {}