Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science


Computer Science and Engineering

First Advisor

(Jeff) Yu Lei


Combinatorial testing is a software testing strategy that has received a significant amount of attention from academia and industry. After executing a combinatorial test set, the execution status, i.e., pass or fail, of each test is obtained. If there is one or more failed tests, the next task is fault localization, i.e. localizing the fault in the source code. This dissertation addresses the problem of how to perform fault localization by leveraging the result of combinatorial testing. The major contribution of this dissertation is a fault localization approach called BEN that consists of two major phases: 1) failure-inducing combination identification, 2) faulty statement localization. A combination is failure-inducing if its existence in a test causes the test to fail. The failure-inducing combination identified in the first phase is used to generate a group of tests such that the spectra of these tests can be analyzed quickly to identify the faulty statement in the source code. To the best of our knowledge, BEN is the first approach that performs code-based fault localization by leveraging the result of combinatorial testing. We conducted experiments in which BEN was applied to a set of programs from the Software Infrastructure Repository (SIR). The programs include the programs in the Siemens suite and two real-life programs, i.e., grep and gzip. The experimental results show that our approach can effectively and efficiently localize the faulty statements in these programs. This dissertation also includes two empirical studies on the effectiveness of combinatorial testing. In the first study, we evaluate the effectiveness of combinatorial testing on the Siemens programs. In the second study, we compare the stability of combinatorial testing to that of random testing. These two studies are conducted as part of our effort to evaluate the effectiveness of BEN, since combinatorial testing must be performed on a subject program before BEN is applied to the program. Both studies contribute to the literature by providing additional data that demonstrate the effectiveness of combinatorial testing. This dissertation is presented in an article-based format and includes six research papers. The first paper reports our work on the first phase of BEN. The second paper reports our work on the second phases of BEN. The third paper is a journal extension that combines the first two papers and also adds several significant extensions of BEN. The fourth paper is a tool paper that describes the design and usage of a prototype tool that implements BEN. The fifth paper reports the empirical study on input parameter modeling. The sixth paper reports the empirical study, on comparing combinatorial testing and random testing. All these papers have been published in peer-reviewed venues except the third one, which is currently under review.


Combinatorial testing, Fault localization, Debugging


Computer Sciences | Physical Sciences and Mathematics


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington