Optimal shortening of uniform covering arrays.

Research paper by Jose J Torres-Jimenez, Nelson N Rangel-Valdez, Himer H Avila-George, Oscar O Carrizalez-Turrubiates

Indexed on: 22 Dec '17Published on: 22 Dec '17Published in: PloS one


Software test suites based on the concept of interaction testing are very useful for testing software components in an economical way. Test suites of this kind may be created using mathematical objects called covering arrays. A covering array, denoted by CA(N; t, k, v), is an N × k array over [Formula: see text] with the property that every N × t sub-array covers all t-tuples of [Formula: see text] at least once. Covering arrays can be used to test systems in which failures occur as a result of interactions among components or subsystems. They are often used in areas such as hardware Trojan detection, software testing, and network design. Because system testing is expensive, it is critical to reduce the amount of testing required. This paper addresses the Optimal Shortening of Covering ARrays (OSCAR) problem, an optimization problem whose objective is to construct, from an existing covering array matrix of uniform level, an array with dimensions of (N - δ) × (k - Δ) such that the number of missing t-tuples is minimized. Two applications of the OSCAR problem are (a) to produce smaller covering arrays from larger ones and (b) to obtain quasi-covering arrays (covering arrays in which the number of missing t-tuples is small) to be used as input to a meta-heuristic algorithm that produces covering arrays. In addition, it is proven that the OSCAR problem is NP-complete, and twelve different algorithms are proposed to solve it. An experiment was performed on 62 problem instances, and the results demonstrate the effectiveness of solving the OSCAR problem to facilitate the construction of new covering arrays.