Dreaming up Metamorphic Relations: Experiences from Three Fuzzer Tools


Metamorphic testing requires the availability of a suitable set of metamorphic relations (MRs) for the application domain of interest. A software testing practitioner interested in using metamorphic testing is thus blocked unless they can devise a suitable set of MRs. In this paper we offer some practical advice on sources of inspiration for MRs, based on our experience building three fuzzing tools based on metamorphic testing: MF++, which supports automated testing of C++11 libraries, C4, which tests concurrency support in C11 compilers, and spirv-fuzz, which aims to find bugs in compilers for the SPIRV programming language (mainly used in computer graphics). The MRs we have devised have taken inspiration from three main sources: (1) careful study of specification documents related to the libraries and programming languages that these tools target, (2) consultation of prior work and discussion with domain experts, and (3) manual inspection of the results of automated code coverage analysis on the systems under test. We describe these sources of inspiration in detail, giving a range of concrete examples for each. We hope that this experience report will help to inform developers of future metamorphic testing tools as to the steps they can take to discover MRs in their domains of interest.