Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Computer Science


Computer Science


Gene Fisher


This thesis presents a tool for SPEcification based teSTing (SPEST). SPEST is designed to use well known practices for automated black-box testing to reduce the burden of testing on developers. The tool uses a simple formal specification language to generate highly-readable unit tests that embody best practices for thorough software testing. Because the specification language used to generate the assertions about the code can be compiled, it can also be used to ensure that documentation describing the code is maintained during development and refactoring.

The utility and effectiveness of SPEST were validated through several exper- iments conducted with students in undergraduate software engineering classes. The first experiment compared the understandability and efficiency of SPEST generated tests against student written tests based on the Java Modeling Lan- guage (JML)[25] specifications. JML is a widely used language for behavior program specification. A second experiment evaluated readability through a sur- vey comparing SPEST generated tests against tests written by well established software developers. The results from the experiments showed that SPEST’s specification language is at least understandable as JML, SPEST’s specification language is more readable than JML, and strongly suggest that SPEST is capable of reducing the effort required to produce effective tests.