Using metamorphic relations to verify and enhance Artcode classification

Liming Xu, Dave Towey, Andrew P. French, Steve Benford, Zhi Quan Zhou, Tsong Yueh Chen

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Software testing is often hindered where it is impossible or impractical to determine the correctness of the behaviour or output of the software under test (SUT), a situation known as the oracle problem. An example of an area facing the oracle problem is automatic image classification, using machine learning to classify an input image as one of a set of predefined classes. An approach to software testing that alleviates the oracle problem is metamorphic testing (MT). While traditional software testing examines the correctness of individual test cases, MT instead examines the relations amongst multiple executions of test cases and their outputs. These relations are called metamorphic relations (MRs): if an MR is found to be violated, then a fault must exist in the SUT. This paper examines the problem of classifying images containing visually hidden markers called Artcodes, and applies MT to verify and enhance the trained classifiers. This paper further examines two MRs, Separation and Occlusion, and reports on their capability in verifying the image classification using one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) in conjunction with three other statistical analysis methods: t-test (for unequal variances), Kruskal–Wallis test, and Dunnett's test. In addition to our previously-studied classifier, that used Random Forests, we introduce a new classifier that uses a support vector machine, and present its MR-augmented version. Experimental evaluations across a number of performance metrics show that the augmented classifiers can achieve better performance than non-augmented classifiers. This paper also analyses how the enhanced performance is obtained.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111060
JournalJournal of Systems and Software
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Artcode
  • Classification
  • Machine learning
  • Metamorphic relation
  • Metamorphic testing
  • Software verification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Information Systems
  • Hardware and Architecture


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