When we design a test we identify what needs to be verified. A set of expected result values are needed for each test in order to check the actual results. Generation of expected results is often done using a mechanism called a test oracle. This paper describes the purpose and use of oracles in automated software verification and validation. Several relevant characteristics of oracles are included with the advantages, disadvantages, and implications for test automation.
Douglas Hoffman is an independent consultant with Software Quality Methods, LLC. He has been in the software engineering and quality assurance fields for over 25 years and now is a management consultant in strategic fields for over 25 years and now is a management consultant in strategic and tactical planning for software quality. He is section chairman for the Santa Clara Valley Section of the American Society for Quality (ASQ) and is past chairman of the Silicon Valley Software Quality Association (SSQA), a 750-member task group of the ASQ. He has been a speaker at dozens of software quality conferences including STAR and has been chairman for several international conferences on software quality. He is also a member of the ACM and IEEE. Doug is certified by ASQ in Software Quality Engineering and has been a registered ISO 9000 Lead Auditor. He has earned an M.B.A. as well as an M.S. in electrical engineering and B.A. in computer science.
Although his current focus is in software test automation, his experience includes extensive consulting, teaching, managing, and engineering in the computer and software industries. He has 15 years' experience in creating and transforming software quality and development groups, and 20 years of management experience. His work in corporate, quality assurance, development, manufacturing, and support organizations makes him very well-versed in technical and managerial issues in the computer industry.