How effectively does metamorphic testing alleviate the oracle problem?

Huai Liu, Fei Ching Kuo, Dave Towey, Tsong Yueh Chen

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

103 Citations (Scopus)


In software testing, something which can verify the correctness of test case execution results is called an oracle. The oracle problem occurs when either an oracle does not exist, or exists but is too expensive to be used. Metamorphic testing is a testing approach which uses metamorphic relations, properties of the software under test represented in the form of relations among inputs and outputs of multiple executions, to help verify the correctness of a program. This paper presents new empirical evidence to support this approach, which has been used to alleviate the oracle problem in various applications and to enhance several software analysis and testing techniques. It has been observed that identification of a sufficient number of appropriate metamorphic relations for testing, even by inexperienced testers, was possible with a very small amount of training. Furthermore, the cost-effectiveness of the approach could be enhanced through the use of more diverse metamorphic relations. The empirical studies presented in this paper clearly show that a small number of diverse metamorphic relations, even those identified in an ad hoc manner, had a similar fault-detection capability to a test oracle, and could thus effectively help alleviate the oracle problem.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6613484
Pages (from-to)4-22
Number of pages19
JournalIEEE Transactions on Software Engineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


  • Software testing
  • metamorphic relation
  • metamorphic testing
  • oracle problem
  • test oracle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software


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