Software can now be tested much faster

Date: 25 February 2015

Introduction: Did you know that internet giants like Amazon update their software every 11.6 seconds, on average? Testing this new software is very labour-intensive and takes a rather long time. But researchers at the University of Antwerp and VUB have come up with a solution.

Fast, faster, fastest: it certainly applies to the IT world. Companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook have structured their production cycles in such a way that the newest versions of their software are released several times a day.

“In some cases this can go very far”, says Serge Demeyer, a professor of computer science at the University of Antwerp. “All the software that Amazon develops is updated every 11.6 seconds on average. This allows them to offer users the newest functionality as quickly as possible. There is also a downside to this, however: software has to be tested and analysed extensively in order to identify and eliminate bugs, and this testing takes a lot of processing power. These ultra-fast cycles make it practically impossible to test every aspect of the software in depth.”

Focus on the differences

With the support of the Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology (IWT), the ANSYMO and SOFT research units (University of Antwerp and VUB, respectively) have now come up with a solution.

“Nowadays, software is always analysed and tested as a whole, even if there haven’t been many changes since the last version”, Demeyer explains. “We now concentrate on the differences between only the two latest versions, which are obviously much smaller. This makes it possible to run very complex software analyses in a relatively short period of time. The outcome? Better software with increased functionality and fewer bugs.”

On Tuesday 24 February the researchers organised an event at Campus Middelheim, University of Antwerp, where IT professionals were introduced to this breakthrough in software analysis.