An Experimental Evaluation of Selective Mutation

Fifteenth International Conference on Software Engineering, pages 100--107, Baltimore, Maryland, May 1993.

Jeff Offutt, Gregg Rothermel, and Christian Zapf


Mutation testing is a technique for unit-testing software that, although powerful, is computationally expensive. The principal expense of mutation is that many variants of the test program, called mutants, must be repeatedly executed. Selective mutation is a way to approximate mutation testing that saves execution by reducing the number of mutants that must be executed. This paper reports experimental results that compare selective mutation testing to standard, or non-selective, mutation testing. The results support the hypothesis that selective mutation is almost as strong as non-selective mutation; in experimental trials selective mutation provides almost the same coverage as non-selective mutation, with significant reductions in cost.

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