Computer Science and Engineering, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON SOFTWARE ENGINEERING, VOL. 24, NO. 6, JUNE 1998. Copyright © 1998 IEEE. Used by permission.


Regression testing is an expensive testing procedure utilized to validate modified software. Regression test selection techniques attempt to reduce the cost of regression testing by selecting a subset of a program’s existing test suite. Safe regression test selection techniques select subsets that, under certain well-defined conditions, exclude no tests (from the original test suite) that if executed would reveal faults in the modified software. Many regression test selection techniques, including several safe techniques, have been proposed, but few have been subjected to empirical validation. This paper reports empirical studies on a particular safe regression test selection technique, in which the technique is compared to the alternative regression testing strategy of running all tests. The results indicate that safe regression test selection can be cost-effective, but that its costs and benefits vary widely based on a number of factors. In particular, test suite design can significantly affect the effectiveness of test selection, and coverage-based test suites may provide test selection results superior to those provided by test suites that are not coverage-based.