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An Evaluation of Monte Carlo-Based Hyper-Heuristic for Interaction Testing of Industrial Embedded Software Applications



Bestoun Ahmed , Eduard Paul Enoiu, Wasif Afzal, Kamal Zamli

Publication Type:

Journal article


Soft Computing Journal: A Fusion of Foundations, Methodologies and Applications


Hyper-heuristic is a new methodology for the adaptive hybridization of meta-heuristic algorithms to derive a general algorithm for solving optimization problems. This work focuses on the selection type of hyper-heuristic, called the Exponential Monte Carlo with Counter (EMCQ). Current implementations rely on the memory-less selection that can be counterproductive as the selected search operator may not (historically) be the best performing operator for the current search instance. Addressing this issue, we propose to integrate the memory into EMCQ for combinatorial t-wise test suite generation using reinforcement learning based on the Q-learning mechanism, called Q-EMCQ. The limited application of combinatorial test generation on industrial programs can impact the use of such techniques as Q-EMCQ. Thus, there is a need to evaluate this kind of approach against relevant industrial software, with a purpose to show the degree of interaction required to cover the code as well as finding faults. We applied Q-EMCQ on 37 real-world industrial programs written in Function Block Diagram (FBD) language, which are used for developing a train control management system at Bombardier Transportation Sweden AB. The results of this study show that Q-EMCQ is an efficient technique for test case generation. Additionally, unlike the t-wise test suite generation, which deals with the minimization problem, we have also subjected Q-EMCQ to a maximization problem involving the general module clustering to demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach. The results show the Q-EMCQ is also capable of outperforming the original EMCQ as well as several recent meta/hyper-heuristic including Modified Choice Function (MCF), Tabu High Level Hyper-Heuristic(HHH), Teaching Learning based Optimization (TLBO), Sine Cosine Algorithm (SCA) and Symbiotic Optimization Search (SOS) in clustering quality within comparable execution time.


author = {Bestoun Ahmed and Eduard Paul Enoiu and Wasif Afzal and Kamal Zamli},
title = {An Evaluation of Monte Carlo-Based Hyper-Heuristic for Interaction Testing of Industrial Embedded Software Applications},
volume = {1},
pages = {1--20},
month = {March},
year = {2020},
journal = {Soft Computing Journal: A Fusion of Foundations, Methodologies and Applications},
url = {}