Skip to Main Content
Examines the theoretical and practical role of testing in software development. The authors prove a fundamental theorem showing that properly structured tests are capable of demonstrating the absence of errors in a program. The theorem's proof hinges on our definition of test reliability and validity, but its practical utility hinges on being able to show when a test is actually reliable. The authors explain what makes tests unreliable (for example, they show by example why testing all program statements, predicates, or paths is not usually sufficient to insure test reliability), and they outline a possible approach to developing reliable tests. They also show how the analysis required to define reliable tests can help in checking a program's design and specifications as well as in preventing and detecting implementation errors.