Category Archives: Path Testing

Path of Most Resistance

In my last blog, I sought
to cover Integration Testing and in doing so we covered the two distinct types
outlined by Mr. Fowler. Of these, Broad Integration Testing (BIT to save time)
is most relevant to the next subject I wish to cover: Path Testing. BIT covers
the interactions between all ‘services’ within a program – meaning a program’s
completed modules are tested to ensure that their interactions match
expectations and do not fail some tests created for them. In this way, Path
Testing is very similar but with a focus on how paths through various aspects/modules
of a program, hopefully, work or do not.

opposed to BIT, Path Testing (PT) seeks to identify not just the interactions
between modules, but instead any and all possible paths through an application
– and discover those parts of the application that have no path. The ultimate
goal is to find and test all “linearly independent paths”, which is defined as
a path that covers a partition that has yet to be covered. PT is made up of,
and can integrate, other testing techniques as well, including what we’ve
covered most recently: equivalence testing. Using this technique, paths can be
grouped by their shared functionality into classes, in order to eliminate
repetition in testing.

determining which paths to take, one could be mistaken for wanting to avoid the
same module more than once; as stated previously, we are seeking paths we have
yet to take. However, it is very often that the same path must be taken, at
least initially, which leads to several modules. In fact, a path might be near
or actually identical to one that has come before it, but if it is required
that several values be tested along this path then it as well is considered
distinct as well. An excellent example of this made by the article I chose
states that loops or recursive calls are very often dictated by data, and
necessarily will require multiple test values.

           However, after this point the author begins to move away from the purely conceptual to actual graphs representing these paths, specifically directed graphs. While it was painful to see these again after thinking I had long escaped discrete math, they provide a perfect illustration for the individual modules you expect a path to trace through, as well as possible breaking points. Directed graphs represent tightly coupled conditions, and in this way they express how a program’s run in order and the cause and effect of certain commands upon execution. In this way, it offers a much more concise visual presentation of the testing process as opposed to something like equivalence testing. As well, these graphs are quite self-explanatory but I look forward to applying these concepts in class to actual code.


Path Testing: The Theory

From the blog CS@Worcester – Press Here for Worms by wurmpress and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Finding & Testing Independent Paths

Since we have been going over path testing in class this past week I decided to find a blog post relating to that material. The post I found titled, “Path Testing: Independent Paths,” is a continuation of a couple previous posts, Path Testing: The Theory & Path Testing: The Coverage, written by the same author, Jeff Nyman. In this blog post, Nyman offers an explanation into what basis path testing is as well as how to determine the number of linearly independent paths in a chunk of code.

Nyman essentially describes a linearly independent path as any unique path in  the graph that does not contain the same combinations of nodes as any other linearly independent path. He also brings up the point that even though path testing is mainly a code-based approach to testing, by assessing what the inputs and outputs should be of a certain piece of code it is still possible “to figure out and model paths.” He gives the specific example of a function that takes in arbitrary values and determines their Greatest Common Denominator. Nyman uses the following diagram to show how he is able to determine each linearly independent path:

I really liked how he was able to break down the logic in the form of processes, edges and decisions without looking at the code. I feel like sometimes when we are building our graphs strictly based on code it’s easy to get confused and forget about the underlying logic that will determine the amount of tests that are necessary to ensure our code is completely tested. It also helped me understand how basis path testing should work and how it should be implemented.

Nyman goes on by showing that he is able to calculate the number of independent paths using the above graph and the formula for cyclomatic complexity. First he points out that number of nodes is equal to the sum of the number of decisions and the number of processes, which in this case is 6. Then, by plugging numbers into cyclomatic complexity formula (V(G) = e – n +2p), Nyman was able to obtain the following results:


Finally, Nyman ends the post by showing that the same results are obtained when going over the actual code for the Greatest Common Denominator function. He also shows that this same graph could be applicable to something like an amazon shopping cart/wishlist program. I think the biggest take-away from this post was that there is a strong relationship between cyclomatic complexity and testing which can prevent bugs through determining each linearly independent path and making sure they are producing the desired functionality.

October 1, 2017

-Caleb Pruitt


From the blog CS@Worcester – Caleb's Computer Science Blog by calebscomputerscienceblog and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.