Time-travel testing of android apps

Zhen Dong, Marcel Bohme, Lucia Cojocaru, Abhik Roychoudhury

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Android testing tools generate sequences of input events to exercise the state space of the app-under-test. Existing search-based techniques systematically evolve a population of event sequences so as to achieve certain objectives such as maximal code coverage. The hope is that the mutation of fit event sequences leads to the generation of even fitter sequences. However, the evolution of event sequences may be ineffective. Our key insight is that pertinent app states which contributed to the original sequence's fitness may not be reached by a mutated event sequence. The original path through the state space is truncated at the point of mutation. In this paper, we propose instead to evolve a population of states which can be captured upon discovery and resumed when needed. The hope is that generating events on a fit program state leads to the transition to even fitter states. For instance, we can quickly deprioritize testing the main screen state which is visited by most event sequences, and instead focus our limited resources on testing more interesting states that are otherwise difficult to reach. We call our approach time-travel testing because of this ability to travel back to any state that has been observed in the past. We implemented time-travel testing into TimeMachine, a time-travel enabled version of the successful, automated Android testing tool Monkey. In our experiments on a large number of open- and closed source Android apps, TimeMachine outperforms the state-of-theart search-based/model-based Android testing tools Sapienz and Stoat, both in terms of coverage achieved and crashes found.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2020 ACM/IEEE 42nd International Conference on Software Engineering, ICSE 2020
EditorsJane Cleland-Huang, Darko Marinov
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781450371216
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventInternational Conference on Software Engineering 2020 - Virtual, Online, Korea, Republic of (South)
Duration: 27 Jun 202019 Jul 2020
Conference number: 42nd
https://dl.acm.org/doi/proceedings/10.1145/3377811 (Proceedings)
https://conf.researchr.org/home/icse-2020 (Website)


ConferenceInternational Conference on Software Engineering 2020
Abbreviated titleICSE 2020
Country/TerritoryKorea, Republic of (South)
CityVirtual, Online
Internet address

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