NLP-assisted software testing: A systematic mapping of the literature

Vahid Garousi*, Sara Bauer, Michael Felderer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Context: To reduce manual effort of extracting test cases from natural-language requirements, many approaches based on Natural Language Processing (NLP) have been proposed in the literature. Given the large amount of approaches in this area, and since many practitioners are eager to utilize such techniques, it is important to synthesize and provide an overview of the state-of-the-art in this area. Objective: Our objective is to summarize the state-of-the-art in NLP-assisted software testing which could benefit practitioners to potentially utilize those NLP-based techniques. Moreover, this can benefit researchers in providing an overview of the research landscape. Method: To address the above need, we conducted a survey in the form of a systematic literature mapping (classification). After compiling an initial pool of 95 papers, we conducted a systematic voting, and our final pool included 67 technical papers. Results: This review paper provides an overview of the contribution types presented in the papers, types of NLP approaches used to assist software testing, types of required input requirements, and a review of tool support in this area. Some key results we have detected are: (1) only four of the 38 tools (11%) presented in the papers are available for download; (2) a larger ratio of the papers (30 of 67) provided a shallow exposure to the NLP aspects (almost no details). Conclusion: This paper would benefit both practitioners and researchers by serving as an “index” to the body of knowledge in this area. The results could help practitioners utilizing the existing NLP-based techniques; this in turn reduces the cost of test-case design and decreases the amount of human resources spent on test activities. After sharing this review with some of our industrial collaborators, initial insights show that this review can indeed be useful and beneficial to practitioners.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106321
JournalInformation and Software Technology
Volume126
Early online date14 May 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Oct 2020

Keywords

  • Natural Language Processing (NLP)
  • Software testing
  • Systematic literature mapping
  • Systematic literature review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications

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