Google Research

Flake Aware Culprit Finding

Proceedings of the 16th IEEE International Conference on Software Testing, Verification and Validation (ICST 2023), IEEE (to appear)

Abstract

When a change introduces a bug into a large software repository, there is often a delay between when the change is committed and when bug is detected. This is true even when the bug causes an existing test to fail! These delays are caused by resource constraints which prevent the organization from running all of the tests on every change. Due to the delay, a Continuous Integration system needs to locate buggy commits. Locating them is complicated by flaky tests that pass and fail non-deterministically. The flaky tests introduce noise into the CI system requiring costly reruns to determine if a failure was caused by a bad code change or caused by non-deterministic test behavior. This paper presents an algorithm, Flake Aware Culprit Finding, that locates buggy commits more accurately than a traditional bisection search. The algorithm is based on Bayesian inference and noisy binary search, utilizing prior information about which changes are most likely to contain the bug. A large scale empirical study was conducted at Google on 13,000+ test breakages. The study evaluates the accuracy and cost of the new algorithm versus a traditional deflaked bisection search.

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