MuDelta: Delta-Oriented Mutation Testing at Commit Time

International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE)


To effectively test program changes using mutation testing, one needs to use mutants that are relevant to the altered program behaviors. We introduce MuDelta, an approach that identifies commit-relevant mutants; mutants that affect and are affected by the changed program behaviors. Our approach uses machine learning applied on a combined scheme of graph and vector-based representations of static code features. Our results, from 50 commits in 21 Coreutils programs, demonstrate a strong prediction ability of our approach; yielding 0.80 (ROC) and 0.50 (PR-Curve) AUC values with 0.63 and 0.32 precision and recall values. These predictions are significantly higher than random guesses, 0.20 (PR-Curve) AUC, 0.21 and 0.21 precision and recall, and subsequently lead to strong relevant tests that kill 45% more relevant mutants than randomly sampled mutants (either sampled from those residing on the changed component(s) or from the changed lines). Our results also show that MuDelta selects mutants with 27% higher fault revealing ability in fault introducing commits. Taken together, our results corroborate the conclusion that commit-based mutation testing is suitable and promising for evolving software.

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