Using formal specifications to support software testing

Authors: Hans-Martin Hoercher and Jan Peleska

Formal specifications become more and more important in the development of software, especially but not only in the area of high integrity system design. In this paper it is demonstrated, how, apart from the specification phase, further benefits may be drawn from formal specifications for checking the implementation against the specification. It is shown how the specification can be used for systematically deriving test input data and for automatically evaluating test results. The approach is illustrated using the specification language Z. The same principles may be applied to other specification languages. The approach allows a high degree of automation, drastically improving productivity and quality of the testing process.

Keywords: Software testing, formal specifications, specification language Z, safety critical systems