Monday, November 5, 2012

Starting a research project …

We're one month into the Prowess research project, which follows on from ProTest in looking at property-based testing and web services. At Kent we're looking at a number of things, some coming out of our work on Wrangler, a tool to help people write refactorings for Erlang programs, and others building on work with Quviq and Sheffield University on extracting properties from existing artefacts, like test sets.

Starting a project is a mixture of anticipation and apprehension. It's exciting to have got the go ahead for work that we planned about a year ago, and to be working with a consortium which brings together some Protesters and some new partners. There's apprehension in working out how precisely we'll do what we said we'd do according to plan: can we manage N person-months on work package M at site X? After an afternoon in Brussels a couple of weeks ago, the answer is that yes, we can.

What are we going to be doing at Kent? We'll be extending Wrangler to make sure that it supports refactoring of property-based testing for web services, so that will include working with state-machine models as well as properties. To do this we'll use the extension facilities that we've built into Wrangler, and reported in our paper Let's make refactoring tools user extensible! After a really useful visit by Ramsay Taylor from Sheffield last week, we realise that we'll also be able to use these facilities in supporting mutation testing for Erlang, since our template language is just right for expressing mutations  to programs. Because it's a proper language it's going to be particularly useful for expressing more complicated transformations such as higher-order mutations.

We're also looking at property extraction, building on existing work to extract machines from test suites written in EUnit, the test framework for Erlang. To help with that we're appointing a researcher to join the team: the job is advertised here and closes on Thursday …

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