Automated Assertion Generation via Information Retrieval and Its Integration with Deep Learning


Unit testing could be used to validate the correctness of basic units of the software system under test. To reduce manual efforts in conducting unit testing, the research community has contributed with tools that automatically generate unit test cases, including test inputs and test oracles (e.g., assertions). Recently, ATLAS, a deep learning (DL) based approach, was proposed to generate assertions for a unit test based on other already written unit tests. Despite promising, the effectiveness of ATLAS is still limited. To improve the effectiveness, in this work, we make the first attempt to leverage Information Retrieval (IR) in assertion generation and propose an IR-based approach, including the technique of IR-based assertion retrieval and the technique of retrieved-assertion adaptation. In addition, we propose an integration approach to combine our IRbased approach with a DL-based approach (e.g., ATLAS) to further improve the effectiveness. Our experimental results show that our IR-based approach outperforms the state-of-the-art DL-based approach, and integrating our IR-based approach with the DL-based approach can further achieve higher accuracy. Our results convey an important message that information retrieval could be competitive and worthwhile to pursue for software engineering tasks such as assertion generation, and should be seriously considered by the research community given that in recent years deep learning solutions have been over-popularly adopted by the research community for software engineering tasks.

IEEE/ACM 44th International Conference on Software Engineering
Dezhi Ran
Dezhi Ran
Ph.D. student

My research interests include software engineering, programming language, and reinforcement learning.