Bachelor and Master Theses

Title: Combinatorial Modelling and Testing of PLC Software using ACTS
Subject: Computer Science
Level: Basic
Description: Background
Software failures are often the result of a faulty interaction between input parameters. Empirical studies showed that most faults are caused by interactions among fewer than six test inputs [2]. Combinatorial testing is a testing strategy that applies combinatorial design to test software systems [1].

Problem formulation
ACTS provides t-way combinatorial testing with t up to 6, and has multiple test generation algorithms implemented [3]. It supports one special case of 1-way testing called base choice. Even if ACTS is a well know tool for combinatorial testing, there is no conclusive evidence on how this tool can be used for modelling and testing domain specific programs, like the ones used in the PLC control software. This thesis will tackle the problem of input space modeling and efficiency of test generation in ACTS for a number of PLC programs.

In this thesis we present a case study in which we apply combinatorial modelling and testing to PLC software and evaluate the applicability of using a combinatorial test generation tool called ACTS. The purpose of this thesis is to gain experience and insights about how to apply combinatorial testing in industrial practice.

Expected Outcome(s)

In this study we are going to model the input space in terms of a set of parameters and values for a number of PLC programs provided as XML files. The PLC programs that are going to be used are from a train control management system (TCMS), which is in charge of many of the safety related and operation critical functionality of a train. For each program an input space model will be written manually with ACTS and evaluated in terms of applicability. Once the model is designed, we generate different t-way test sets using ACTS and evaluate the efficiency in terms of generation time, number of generated tests and memory consumption.

The results of this thesis will show how the input space modelling in ACTS can be undertaken and managed. The expected outcome of this thesis is to show a set of guidelines, using examples, that can be used by practitioners to apply combinatorial testing when testing industrial PLC software.

Initial Timeplan
Initial time plan consists of:
Background : March 28, 2016 - April 11, 2016
Related work
Research/Implementation: April 12, 2016 - May 12, 2016
Experimentation/Analysis: May 13, 2016 - May 25, 2016
Report writing: March 28, 2016 - May 25, 2016
Presentation preparation: May 23, 2016 - June 3, 2016

We will use one combinatorial testing tool named ACTS. There are other tools for generating tests and these may give different results. More case studies comparing different combinatorial testing tools are needed to generalize our results. Another limitation is that the ACTS tool will be used only for some programs from one company. Evaluating this tool on programs from other companies could shed more light on the usability of combinatorial testing in practice.


[1] Ammann, Paul, and Jeff Offutt. Introduction to software testing. Cambridge University Press, 2008.

[2] Runeson, Per, and Martin Höst. "Guidelines for conducting and reporting case study research in software engineering." Empirical software engineering 14.2 (2009): 131-164.

[3] Borazjany, Mehra N., et al. "Combinatorial testing of ACTS: A case study." Software Testing, Verification and Validation (ICST), 2012 IEEE Fifth International Conference on. IEEE, 2012.
Prel. end date: 2016-06-15
Presentation date: 2016-06-05
Student: Sara Ericsson
IDT supervisor: Eduard Paul Enoiu, +46-21-101624
Examinator: Daniel Sundmark
Daniel Sundmark, +46-21-103145

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