Testing Efficacy and Machine Learning

As stated in the title of this post, this week’s Software Testing topic of discussion relates to the hand-in-hand incorporation of software testing and machine learning, found at the following blog post: https://testing.googleblog.com/2018/09/efficacy-presubmit.html. Google has been taking on automated testing of their code before permanently committing to their huge repository. By doing so, they have examined “Efficacy Presubmit,” which uses the idea of automatically predicting which tests would be best appropriate to run, as well as learning about which tests are more useful or valuable than others in terms of discovering critical issues in code. Tests that are more guaranteed to pass every time are less meaningful than those that come up with failures. This process of discovering the more valuable tests would certainly assist with optimizing time and resources spent to run tests. To do this, Google applied a machine learning concept, binary classification, to “learn” whether a test would or would not pass (a binary outcome), using the numerical data given from running software tests, such as pass/failure history and runtime for tests. By predicting the outcomes ahead of time, testers can understand which tests are more likely to keep passing every time or produce more failures.

I was really interested in learning more about the software development process at Google. Many of my CS friends discuss how awesome it would be to work at Google, Microsoft, or Facebook, among other giant companies dominating the field of software development. Reading more about how developers at Google undergo the cycle of writing and testing their code (with multiple iterations before and after committing, as to be expected) increased my confidence that even within the first few weeks of my software testing course, our course content lines up with what Google (and other companies I’m sure) is doing. I also enjoyed learning about how machine learning can be applied to software testing. I had only thought of the two concepts in a mutually exclusive fashion, but the description of the data used for the classification of the tests (like the runtimes for tests) gave me perspective of how various concepts in computer science can work together to solve problems.

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