Link Search Menu Expand Document

Student: ex12

Adding more test coverage

Part of a series of tutorial articles about a Student class.

Code examples referred to on this page can be found here:

For this exercise, we focus on the report from ex11, and what needs to be done to resolve the gaps in test coverage.

A snapshot of the mutation coverage report can be found here:

Uncovered lines in

We can see that there are three places in that are not covered by tests; we’ve marked those lines with comments //RED below, based on the report for

    public static boolean validPerm(int perm) {	
        if (perm < 1 || perm > 9999999) {    // RED
            return false;
        if (perm <= 999999) // RED
           return true;
        int lastDigit = perm % 10;
        int firstSix = perm / 10;
        return lastDigit == Luhn.checkDigit(firstSix); // RED

What we need to is to write tests that cover these lines. Consider this line:

        if (perm < 1 || perm > 9999999) {    // RED

Looking at the mutation report more closely, we can see what it says this about this line. Next to line 35, there is a 4 that, if you hover over it, brings up a pop up.

The 4 means that there were four different mutations of this line of code; and the fact that the line is red and not green, means that at least one of those mutants survived. We can see which one, exactly, by hovering over the 4 and looking at the pop up:

The popup looks like this:

1. changed conditional boundary → KILLED 
2. changed conditional boundary → SURVIVED
3. negated conditional → KILLED 
4. negated conditional → KILLED

This shows us that the mutation that survived is one where the mutation was changed conditional boundary. This means changing:

From To
< <=
<= <
> >=
>= >

So the mutations of this line under this rule could be:

  • if (perm <= 1 || perm > 9999999) {
  • if (perm < 1 || perm >= 9999999) {

Let’s consider what happens in these scenarios by first asking:

  • Will these mutations introduce a bug?
    • It turns out that, as explained here, there are cases where mutations do not change the correctness of the code. If the mutation doesn’t change the correctness of the code, we can’t expect our unit tests to catch the problem.
    • In those cases, we may have to simply live with less than 100% as a result, or consider if there is a way to rewrite the code without sacrificing readability.
  • If the mutation does introduce a bug, what bug is it, and how can we catch it with a test?

Consider first the case of:

  • if (perm <= 1 || perm > 9999999) {

Here, if we want to treat 1 as a valid perm, then this mutation should introduce a bug where 1 is rejected when it should be accepted as a valid perm. So the test that should catch this mutation is this one, which is indeed a test not yet present in ex11:

    public void test_validPerm_1() {

However consider this line:

  • if (perm < 1 || perm >= 9999999) {

If this were the only test of what is a valid perm, then by changing > to >=, we would be rejecting the valid perm 9999999 instead of accepting it.The trouble is, we now know that after introducing the Luhn check, that in fact the highest valid perm is 9999996 rather than 9999999. So introducing a test for 9999999 will not change our outcome.

What will work is to first change our code to a more correct boundary:

    public static boolean validPerm(int perm) {	
        if (perm < 1 || perm > 9999996) {   
            return false;

Then we change our test to this new boundary, 9999996:

    public void test_validPerm_9999996() {

We run our tests again with:

mvn test org.pitest:pitest-maven:mutationCoverage

And we see that this takes care of the first line that was red. Now we proceed to this one:

        if (perm <= 999999) // RED

Again, we look at the type of mutation that survived and discover that it is again a “changed condition boundary”. The first thing to try is a test for the exact value in the condition. As we saw above, this doesn’t always work, but it often does, so its the first thing we try:

    public void test_validPerm_999999() {

That leaves us with just one line left in, this one:

        return lastDigit == Luhn.checkDigit(firstSix); // RED

Look at the coverage report, we see that this time the mutation that survived was this:

1. replaced boolean return with true for edu/ucsb/cs156/student/Student::validPerm → SURVIVED

That is to say, the mutation was to always return true. Thus we need a test case where the the correct result for the unit under test is to return false on this exact line of code, i.e. a test where all of the other checks will lead us to this line, but the check digit will fail.

We know from previous work that the six digit perm 1111111 has the check digit 1, so if we use 1111119, that should cause this mutation to be killed (why? because we expect the result false, but the mutation will force the method to return true).

So here is the test case needed:

    public void test_validPerm_1111119() {

Let’s run again with:

mvn test org.pitest:pitest-maven:mutationCoverage

This gets us 100% coverage in

The main function in

We see first that the main function in is not covered by tests.

However, since the only purpose of this main was to do quick checks (interactive testing) while developing, one simple fix is to just comment it out. If it were needed again during development, it would be easy to restore it.

    // public static void main(String [] args) {
    //     System.out.println(checkDigit(Integer.parseInt(args[0])));
    // }

This gets us almost to 100% code coverage still has pink on the opening line of the class

The file still shows, after all this, that the first line of the class is “uncovered”.

We speculate that this is because the class likely has a default constructor, and that default constructor is not being tested.

So we try this. It’s a bit of hack, but as it turns out, it works:

    public void test_luhn_defaultConstructor() {
       Luhn l = new Luhn();

It could be argued that this “hack” of a test adds no value because nothing is being asserted, and the code that is “tested” (though not really) does nothing useful.

On the other hand, we could also argue that the test is a sign the fact that the developer has considered the test coverage of and ruled out the possibility that the default constructor would be a problem.

In any case, this gets us to 100% test coverage

Could we do something else instead of commenting out the main?

Note that leaving commented out code in the source code files is a controversial choice here. Some organizations would frown on this in production code. So here are two other options we could have chosen:

  • Refactor it into it’s own class, and then specify that class in the pom.xml as one that is excluded from pit testing. (As of October 2020, pitest does not have an official way to mark specfic methods in a class as ones to skip over when computing pit mutation testing; this can only be done reliably at the class level.)

  • Just remove the main method completely.

What’s next?

That’s it for ex12. In the next exercise, we start to look at reading student records from files into an ArrayList, as preparation for sorting.