Strategies for Scalable Symbolic Execution-based Test Generation

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Tech

With the advent of advanced program analysis and constraint solving techniques, several test generation tools use variants of symbolic execution. Symbolic techniques have been shown to be very effective in path-based test generation; however, they fail to scale to large programs due to the exponential number of paths to be explored. In this thesis, we focus on tackling this path explosion problem and propose search strategies to achieve quick branch coverage under symbolic execution, while exploring only a fraction of paths in the program. We present a reachability-guided strategy that makes use of the reachability graph of the program to explore unvisited portions of the program and a conflict driven backtracking strategy that utilizes conflict analysis to perform nonchronological backtracking. We also propose error-directed search strategies, that are aimed at catching bugs in the program faster, by targeting those parts of the program where bugs are likely to be found or those that are hard to reach. We present experimental evidence that these strategies can significantly reduce the search space and improve the speed of test generation for programs.

symbolic execution, software verification, dynamic test generation, path explosion, satisfiability modulo theories